BlackBerry Hub open API adds to the awesome

BlackBerry Hub
By Chris Umiastowski on 9 Jan 2013 02:48 pm EST

After returning from a family vacation, I spent most of today catching up on recent tech news including all the goings-on at CES.  It looks like the Mobile Nations team is having a blast even if the show isn't filled with BlackBerry news.

One particular video caught my attention.  Yesterday Forbes posted a YouTube video featuring Jeff Gadway, RIM's Senior Manager of BlackBerry Product Marketing.  It was just another walk-through of BlackBerry 10.  Gadway was showing how you can swipe down from the BlackBerry Hub to reveal your next appointment, or other important items.  Because I was managing my task list before watching this video, I immediately thought to myself, "Gee wouldn't it be nice if there was a cloud-based BlackBerry Task Manager app which showed me my high priority tasks in the Hub?"

The best task managers have been built by third parties, not mobile platform vendors like RIM, Apple or Google.  Apps like Remember The Milk come to mind.  So around the 2:30 mark in the video, I was pleased to hear Gadway drop this little quote about BlackBerry Hub:

"The hub is going to be an open API that developers will be able to tie their applications into."

I'll be the first to admit that we've heard this before, so it's not shocking news.  But it was the first time I stopped to think about what it means to RIM and customers.  It was the first time I thought about it in the context of productivity apps like task managers.  

With BBHub APIs available, any Internet-connected task manager (whether it be a desktop app or a web service) could feed data right to the Hub.  

Obviously it doesn't end there.  Sports apps could feed data from your favorite teams.  Finance apps could feed stock price alerts directly to the Hub.  The classic "to do list" is just what came to mind for me when I was watching Gadway speak.  

If you own a Playbook running OS2, you've already had a bit of a feel for how this works because RIM aggregates email, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as part of your inbox.  I think the creation of an API to allow third parties to plug into the Hub is absolutely brilliant.  

In its first release, I think this Hub API will close the gap with what iOS already has.  iOS apps can already populate the Notification Center.  And this should make it easier for app developers to support BlackBerry even if they don't build a full-fledged app.  They could  easily build "apps" (if you want to call them that) which simply populate data you care about into the BBHub.  Clicking on an item could then take you to a mobile-friendly website rather than a platform-specific app.  For many web-based services this would be excellent.

But we think RIM will extend its APIs beyond this, and allow deeper integration with BBHub.  For example, say you complete a to do item.  Imagine just checking it off right there in the Hub.  No need to go into the app to do it.  It's like the Pareto principle (aka the 80/20 rule).   Most of the things you need to see and do should be doable right from inside the Hub.  And this is what I think RIM is building with BlackBerry 10.

Counting the days until January 30th ...

Reader comments

BlackBerry Hub open API adds to the awesome


I have a feeling it could be like BBM connected apps we have now. We have the option to connect the app to the hub or not.

We'll have control Im shur. When you think about a whole number of apps on blackberry 7 and how you select 100's of options on how they interact with the phone. bebuzz, leaveiton, fixmo etc.

Thanks for addressing this because part of the BlackBerry DNA is notifications and AFAIK, when the BB10 device start blinking, the default action is to peek. Hopefully app developers make good use of the Hub open API to reveal the relevant info and to allow us to FLOW us into the appropriate app.

Not sure about Whatsapp as I've never used it since I think it's a security nightmare.... but Touch, formerly PingChat, already does this with BBOS. All messages and notifications come to the Messages inbox. It's a great messaging app in case you've never tried it.

Isn't this also true for any other app on BBOS? Isn't the Universal Inbox(U I) also capable of this? BeWeather sending Alerts? Web Messages (RSS)? Groupon? What's App in fact already does this.? FB Messenger, which creates double notifications in your U I if you have your regular FB app go to your Universal Inbox. Uhm I think Fruit Slash also sends messages to the U I.

All of the Native BB apps (of course this doesn't mean its public, but proves it is already totally possible).

I believe the issue is that not enough developers find use for it, or perhaps they don't know about it.

What it seems Kevin is getting it is additional usability of the HUB. I think the current process is quite painless. By clicking a message/notification/alert in the U I it takes you to the desired place within that app. If you get a weather alert it takes you directly to the alert. If you get a What's App Message it takes you directly to that message. Instantly and Flawlessly without having to open the app first or any visible macros. I prefer this solution than the Playbook's solution.

So with that in mind wouldn't a app like Lister (amazing app btw) for example be able to send Reminders to the U I. If you are able to create an alarm app, and also create an app that sends Alerts to the U I, I would assume that it is also possible to create an app that sends reminders to the U I with the current BBOS dev tools. Being able to mark it off from the HUB or U I would be cool but clicking it and being taken directly to that specific reminder and then doing it from the app itself is really not that much more work. I guess adding additional menu items would be cool. Currently it only offers open in app or delete, adding marked as completed would be neat. Not sure if this is something that can be currently done. I don't see why not since apps are able to add custom options to the BB Menu. Quick Launch for example. Photo Editors will additional menu items (Edit Picture) only when you are inside of your pictures app.

Perhaps I am just not understanding.. lol

And well in the current OS you are able to select what displays in your U I also. They have said in several interviews that BB10 will also allow this type of customization with the HUB..

I agree with you that what BB7 has is superior to the PlayBook with regards to the unified inbox. I thought the hub just adds more specific functionality so you can do additional things from within the hub without having to switch into the app. However, I don't mind what BB7 has because it works well for me. I get ScoreMobile notifications, plus Facebook, Twitter, calendar events, BBM, BBM Groups, SMS, even phone call logs & voice mail. Any applicable can send notifications to the unified inbox. Love it! Posting directly from the hub is a nice to have, but I wanted keep all the functionality of the unified inbox in BB7.

For those worrying about disabling unwanted notifications in the Hub, it has already been mentioned that you can select what is shown in the Hub.

Hub connected sounds similar to BBM connected.
But I presume it'll make a hit for non BBM users.

I believe I like that:)

Doesnt the Remember app allow you to do that to do list notifications already and is integrated with Evernote from what I have read

I want to see an expanded BBM API where 3rd-party messenger apps allow you to use their app completely within BBM rather than needing to have the 3rd-party app open separately. If BB refuses to release BBM for iOS or Android this would be the next best thing for me as a BBM user.

Hmm so the Messages app on the Playbook accomplishes this with FB and Twitter. So it seems feasible that this could be integrated that way with BBM. Or allowing it to do it simply in the hub would also suffice. The question is would you sacrifice usability and features this way? It would work well with simple back and forth text 1 on 1, but sending media for example or creating group chats, I believe would get a little complicated to do just from the HUB or BBM. Would cause to much confusion.

*Dream Sequence:*

I get a what's app message. I open up BBM. I realize its a picture. I am able to open the picture through my BBM UI withought opening the Whatsapp. I then select to share with group. My group not only contains BBM users but also other Whatsapp(android) Users, and I am able to send to both straight from BBM.

Both my BBM Buddies and my Whatsapp Buddies receive the pic. But when the Android users reply, Their Android OS is not advanced enough to respond to the other BBM users involved...XXX

*End Dream Sequence*

RIM is on the ball and there is no stopping. Well written article. I want it to read google task and sync it with bb task.

The open API on the Hub elevates vanilla messaging (ie like forum messaging on Crackberry) to the same status as email. You get a blinky light, ability to peek and because it will have a little crackberry symbol, you will know the context of the message without even going all the way into the hub. Brilliant way to segregate your messaging to different platforms (for easier identification) but still having it all in one place.

What I hope RIM does in the future is make the HUB visually appealing. For example, when you are following a certain sports game, they show you in the hub the teams logo, stats, etc.

Agreed. Sorta what you have on Google Now. I'm guessing that it could be done if an app like score mobile can tap into it.

Anybody know if the blinking light will turn off if you "peek" at you hub? Not stay on like when you "peek" on the PlayBook?

In the settings, you can turn the blinking light off for notifications and just leave the glow on.....Once I check my notifications, both the led and glow features disable properly. Do you have the latest software upgrade?

I liked how well this article explains the significance of the "open API." I'm not really sure about comparing it to the API for iOS's notifications, which is just a sort of weak attempt at mimicking Android notifications and not really trying to extend the "universal inbox" concept.

The Hub is starting to sound like the Android notification drawer if Google actually had good designers working for them when they first made Android.

I remember downloading an app for the world cup that would intermittently send me updates of the teams I was following. Most of the time it did not actually work! But a few times it did. Meaning this functionality is somewhat already there. I can't recall if these alerts were coming into my universal inbox or just showing as a notification!

Did anyone else notice he said "The Hub" is new and was never apart of the old blackberry? If I'm correct the unified inbox on bbos was like the hub in ways am I not correct?

RIM has all their duck lined up.
I can't wait till they reveal hat else the super BB10 phones will be able to do.

Now that we all know what the BlackBerry Hub is and what it's capable of. I have a suggestion for BlackBerry, perhaps CrackBerry can pass this along for me to BlackBerry's CEO.

Every single application within the Hub for instance, Facebook, Twitter, Hotmail, etc., BB should have there distinctive colours on these apps with each and every one.

The one thing I realised is people are drawn to nice colourful graphics, especially the none tech savvy customers which can't tell the difference between an iPhone and a Z10.

This is how Apple and Google market there products and sell. There software can suck for example, but they can at least make it look nice and colourful which results from high sales.

I have some unique incredible ideas for BlackBerry 10.

My only question is do we HAVE to use the HUB??? I particularly like this I can hide the universal mail box and use email boxes, apps, textes, BBM separately

I tool think that we should be able to color code which app corresponds to which message in HUB. That's a great idea!!!