LED notification apps compared - BeBuzz, HUB++, Powertools, Watcher

LED notification apps compared - BeBuzz, HUB++, Powertools, Watcher
By DJ Reyes on 31 Jul 2014 01:07 pm EDT
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The LED notification light is a staple on BlackBerry smartphones. That blinking red light, illuminating when a message comes through, prompting you to reach for your device and check your inbox. Then came apps that allowed you to change the color of the LED light for different types of messages. They've been around since BlackBerry OS days and when BlackBerry 10 landed, we started to see them crop up too. However, until the headless feature came along, allowing them to work in the background, many people opted to postpone using the apps. Now that the headless option is here, there have been a few more LED notification apps to hit BlackBerry World. We thought we'd do up a comparison post of the most popular ones and see who comes out on top. Or at least which one gives us the better options and features.

For this post we will be looking at BeBuzz (v2.0.93.442), HUB++ (v5.7.6.1), Watcher (v1.0.0.25), Powertools (v4.0.0.1). Also note, this comparison is for BlackBerry 10 smartphones.

 

Setting up

 

BeBuzz

When you first launch BeBuzz, you are taken through a very quick initial setup process, once done you can start customizing the LED notification for different messages and accounts. You can add customize the LED for individual contacts, apps and email accounts. There is no need to wait for a message to come through before editing the LED notification. As is the case with some of the other apps.

BeBuzz initial setup

 

HUB++

The process of setting things up in HUB++ is a bit of a mixture. Straight out of the box, so to speak, you can assign LED colors to e-mail accounts, SMS messages, BBM, calendar and calls. But for the likes of Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and LinkedIn, they can't be assigned off the bat. What happens is HUB++ monitors these notifications into the Hub and then prompts you to assign it to the relevant social media type within the app. Once you have defined the account type you can then assign a LED color.

HUB++ assign account detection  HUB++ account detection

 

Watcher

Once you've installed Watcher and opened it up, you're pretty much ready to go. Just start choosing what elements of the notification you want to edit, such as the LED, profile, vibration and then select the accounts you want to customize from there.

Watcher Control Panel

The clean look of Watcher makes it easy to navigate and set things up.

 

Powertools

Powertools doesn't go through an initial setup like you do with BeBuzz but when you start adding LED customization to e-mail messages you do get prompted to turn off the sound, vibration and LED notification for that account via the main OS Settings. It's also similar to HUB++ in that when you receive a BBM message or notification from an app that does alerts (Twitter, Facebook, iGrann, etc), you will receive a Hub notification to setup the LED notification from there. Just as with e-mail messages, you have to turn off the sound, vibration and LED notifications via the main device Settings.

Powertools notification configuration prompt  Poewrtools Hub account detection

 

Level of customization

 

BeBuzz

There are lots of different accounts and messages that you can assign a color LED to with BeBuzz, including BBM. There's also a wide variety of colors to choose from. There are solid colors, disco combinations and other color combinations to choose from.

BeBuzz app selection  BeBuzz Colour Options

As well as assigning an LED color to each of your accounts you can also add a specific sound alert and vibration. You can select the number of times it would vibrate too, just to add further customization.

BeBuzz individual app settings

Apart from just being able to customize notification alerts for individual contacts you can create custom rules too. For example, you can create rules for certain subject matters. You can also set message actions too, like marking it read, flag it, etc.

 

HUB++

HUB++ has the same range of solid colors as BeBuzz, though the range of combinations is not as much. However, you can create your own color combinations. There is also the ability to customize the sound alert for each account, as well as choose a vibrate pattern.

HUB++ Colour Selection

You can create a rule or create custom notifications for individual contacts, too, just like you can with BeBuzz. You can also set an LED for when you have when you have no cellular coverage, when the battery is charging, when battery is full and when you have Wi-Fi coverage.

HUB++ LED for Cellular  HUB++ Custom Rule

 

Watcher

Watcher is the simplest of the bunch. There aren't many color choices. You basically just have the solid colors to choose from. There's no disco option either, except for incoming calls where you have the option to have the LED flash with all the colors. You can set the blink speed of the LED notification though.

Watcher Control Panel  Watcher Email LED Customization

There is no way to create custom rules or customization for individual contacts with Watcher. However, it does offer a message and call block feature. You can block e-mails from certain domains, specific e-mail address as well as create keyword rules. You can also block SMS messages too.

Watcher also includes customizing the LED for cellular signal and Bluetooth connectivity.

 

Powertools

Powertools has a lot of options just like BeBuzz and HUB++. There are color combinations you can choose from, not just one solid color. You can set the Blink Duration, too. By default, 500 times is selected but you can choose your preference from the dropdown menu. Powertools also allows you to create custom rules, too.

Powertools colour options  Powertools LED setting options

As mentioned earlier, when setting up apps or e-mail notifications you have to turn off the sound, vibration and LED in the main OS Settings menu, so if you want to have a sound alert or vibration for that particular account you have to set that up through Powertools. There are some default sounds provided within the app but you can use your own ones too.

 

Overall Experience

 

BeBuzz

I've been a BeBuzz user since BlackBerry OS and I'm a little biased towards the app. There's enough variety in the options to customize many different aspects of you notifications and you don't have to mess about with the native notifications to get going. There is also the ability to add sounds and/or vibration to your notifications too.

Unlike the other apps in this comparison, BeBuzz is solely an LED notification app. But it's a pretty solid one at that. It works well for me and assigning an LED to an account is straightforward. BeBuzz does offer a Message Actions feature where it will automatically perform actions when you receive a message from a particular contact. These actions include marking a message as read, setting it as a priority, flagging it, or even deleting it.

BeBuzz Message Actions

 

HUB++

HUB++ was one of the first LED notification apps to launch on BlackBerry 10. It didn't start out being an LED notification app but it was a welcome addition. Setting up isn't too bad as you can set the LED light for e-mails and BBM but for social media apps I find the account detection system not as great as that on Powertools. It detects the account but due to the fact that you have to be the one to assign the account, I have found I can often assign it incorrectly if a few notifications from different social media accounts come through around the same time.

HUB++ also goes beyond LED notifications, it offers notification profiles, where you can set different alerts for different times of the day. There is also a flip profile too though this one just makes it go to silent, it cannot be customized as you can with Watcher.

HUB++ Profile Scheduler

 

Watcher

Watcher doesn't have many bells and whistles but it's a nice, clean app. It's unfortunate that you can't set an LED notification for apps like Twitter and Facebook but at least it includes BBM. Setting everything up a simple and there isn't a need for you to wait for a notification into the Hub before you can setup an LED.

Watcher Flip Profile Menu  Watcher Schedule Profile Menu

Watcher does more than just LED notifications too, you can also set a Scheduled Profile. You can set your device to switch to the silent or vibrate profile during certain times of the day. There is also something called Flip Profile. If you turn this option on your device will switch to the profile you select when you lay your device face-down on the table. Note if you have the Flip Profile on it overrides the Scheduled Profile if you flip your device face-down. There is also a Holster Profile which does the same thing but obviously switches profile when you slip it into a holster, though this does not affect the Scheduled Profile if turned on.

 

Powertools

I found it a bit tiresome that you would have to wait for a notification to come through from apps before you could setup the LED notification for that particular app. I would just prefer to be able to set them up from the get go. Another thing that bothers me is that I have to turn off the native sounds in the main OS Notifications Settings. For some accounts I use the default BlackBerry 10 alerts and these are not accessible via Powertools. Sometimes I found the sound alert didn't always sync with a message arriving into the Hub.

Powertools features

However, Powertools does go further than being just an LED app, you can create custom profiles too. Just like with Watcher and HUB++ where you can have your sound profile change during certain hours of the day. Powertools also allows this via geofencing. You can also set holster profiles too. It's just a bit of a hassle to get everything setup but once you're all done it is a great app. It can do many things in one place, rather than having to have many apps to do different things. You can set event sounds e.g. sounds when you lock/unlock the screen, charge the device etc. There's even a wallpaper changer within the app too.

Powertools System Sounds &bnsp;Powertools profile changer by geofencing

 

Which app comes out on top?

First thing to note is that all these apps are headless so if you are running BlackBerry OS 10.2.1 and above you don't need to have the app open in an Active Frame for it to function. However, if you're running an OS lower than 10.2.1, the app will need to stay open in order to work properly.

While all these apps are LED notification apps, some offer more customization than others and also offer more features than just being able to customize the LED notification. Which one you choose will come down to personal preference. If all you're looking for is an LED app BeBuzz is a good choice. It has plenty of options and your have access to all accounts once you're setup. If you want something simple I would go for Watcher. I like it more than I thought I would and I like the Flip Profile. It's only downfall is that it does not include apps like Twitter and Facebook.

Powertools and HUB++ are very similar. Even when it comes to setting up. You have to first receive a notification for some accounts before you can set an LED notification for it. Though I do find that Powertools does it better as it tells you the account for which you are setting it up for. With HUB++ you have to select which account the notification is for and sometimes when notifications come in from different accounts about the same time, you're not really sure which one it is. If you don't mind this slightly long-winded process of setting things up any one of these two are great choices if you want more. Both apps have lots of other extras from call blocking, geofencing, profiles. Powertools, however, does offer a bit more than HUB++.

Pricing may ultimately be the deciding factor for some people. So, let's take a look at that too. BeBuzz costs $2.99, it doesn't offer more than LED notifications but it is highly customizable and has been a favourite since BlackBerry OS days. Watcher costs $1.99, it's simple, clean and does the job well. It offers some extras too, such as call and SMS blocking as well as Customizable Profiles. HUB++ costs $2.99, it offers a lot of customization as well extra features like Watcher. Powertools costs $3.99. It's the most expensive of the bunch but it also offers the most features overall, it really does combine features you can find in many different apps into one place.

As for my own personal preference? Up until writing up this comparison post I had been using BeBuzz but after using all of them I'm very fond of Watcher. Mainly for it's clean layout but also for the Flip Profile. But because I want a custom LED light for Twitter and Facebook I'm still going to use BeBuzz. Although, Powertools be the better option as it packs many apps in to one place and that's what I want right now. It's just a bit of an issue for me when the sound alert doesn't quite sync up when it hits the Hub. Otherwise I'd be using it over BeBuzz.

What is your app of choice for LED notifications? Did this post help you decide? Sound off in the comments.

Download BeBuzz 10 Pro
Download HUB++
Download Watcher
Download Powertools

Reader comments

LED notification apps compared - BeBuzz, HUB++, Powertools, Watcher

77 Comments

None of them worked on work email and none of them match the experience on bbos (not that it's their fault... it's how the new bb10 works). This feature should have been baked into the OS without need for 3rd party.

Posted via CB10

I've been using hub++ since it came out. Rarely had problems with it and when I did, an email to the developer got answered within 24 hours and usually the solution was found in 48 hours.

Regularly updated and very extensive app. It can be a bit daunting to set up at first but once that's out of the way you're golden.

Posted via CB10

This^^ I find it frustrating that it will work fine for a while, then not do what it's supposed, then work again--all for no apparent reason.

I didn't trust Powertools. Hope they improve it at some stage. Sorry. It might work for others ...

 BlackBerry? I premdict the future's gonna be chenomenal! 

I think the headless function of bebuzz is quite unreliable if you have to switch your phone off and on several times a week. Sometimes bebuzz restarts automatically, sometimes not. It's my only headless app that is so unreliable.

Posted via CB10

Be buzz doesn't work for my individual contacts, but it does work for other apps like Facebook and bbm.

Posted via CB10

I use Hub ++ but haven't really tested around. Does pretty much everything I want it to do, but it still bugs me that there is no true yellow or white color when the light flashes

Posted via CB10

I agree, I've tried all of the led apps (pro versions) and so far none of them are reliable.

No More Music!!!!! No More Videos!!!

Can't agree. BeBuzz is very stable. To the point I usually think my LED works as it does due to the OS and not an app.

I use Powertools because I can set separate led colors for individual BBM contacts which is awesome since I mostly use BBM to communicate with ppl.

It also has the wave function which when u wave your hand over the phone the led will stop blinking

Posted via BlackBerry Passport...I wish

This. I love PT and can't wait for it to work well on 10.3 so I can start using it again. I just wish I could use the native tones (like the article stated)

Posted via CB10

DJ, could you add a table to show what permissions each application uses / requires?

That might be a determining factor for some users, as well.

I use HUB++. Didn’t have as good of an experience with BeBuzz as I do with HUB++. FYI HUB++ does allow you to choose LED notifications for Twitter and Facebook upfront, as well as calendar, missed calls, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Skype, incoming calls, and others. It doesn't recognize every specific notification from Facebook upfront, in my experience, but it does a good job overall and it can learn. Just pay attention to the time of notification it wants you to define when it doesn't know what it received and that should take away confusion if you get back to back notifications and don't know which one is being asked about.

HUB++ is a little unstable (just a little), as it tends to stop working after a couple of days of not rebooting your phone. You can back up your settings and restore them though. So, when it stops working, I simply choose to restore settings and then reopen the app and víola. Problem quickly solved and no reboot needed.

Posted via CB10

A thorough job! I like to know ahead of time though, during installation what grants is the app demanding? If they ask more than what appears the app should need I just delete them right then and there.

Posted from my awesome Z30 :-D

I've bought all of them and ultimately decided to not use any. I preferred Power Tools but it always acts up in various ways so I gave up; even on the most recent version. Whenever the next update comes out, I'll try it out again. I don't care what color the led is, I'm still grabbing my phone as fast as I can to check it.

Posted via CB10

Great article, DJ! Appreciate the work that went into it.

I haven't used any of these apps so far. I tend to change ringtones rather than LED colors, so that I can tell what is coming in and from whom, without having to look at my phone each time.

But if I ever decide to try an LED profile app, I will definitely refer back to this article.

Posted with my Q10, SQN100-2, 10.2.1.3253/3182 Radio

So the thing I find keeping me with HUB++ and the thing I think you missed is its ability to handle messages based on custom designed filters. For instance. I don't want to unsubscribe from a particular newsletter that comes to my inbox, but I don't want to know it arrived on my phone. Hub++ marks it as read and flags it and doesn't light the led or make a sound, later when I'm in my leisure, I can see it there. Same with work related emails or texts. Special sound special flag.

None of the other notification apps included message handling this deep, for that reason I will continue to use / recommend Hub++

Not to mention the Dev of Hub++ is super responsive!

Brought to you by my: Z30 (STA100-1FTW) / Z10 (STL100-3) / Q5 (SQR100-1) / Q10 (SQN100-1)

Ps I have used bebuzz, and powertools. But not watcher

Brought to you by my: Z30 (STA100-1FTW) / Z10 (STL100-3) / Q5 (SQR100-1) / Q10 (SQN100-1)

Power Tools - just for the geofencing abilities. Love that I can set it to change the profile based on location.

Also a big plus is it will allow you to set notifications based on different events - like when I make a phone call I have my Z10 Vibrate for a long pulse..... that has cut down on a number of pocket dials.

Also it has a Backup feature - so I can save all my settings. Big plus if you install leaks (when there are any), but don't want to do a full restore of the OS.

How about we compare CUSTOMER SUPPORT?????????????? Bebuzz SUCKS... Hub++ helps takes advice and responds immediately. Forget Bebuzz. I used them in BlackBerry OS but SOOOOOO happy Hub++ put them to rest. U are right u are biased about Bebuzz. BeBust

Posted Via This Thing They Call The BlackBerry Z30

I use Hub++, and one of the things I really like about it is the blink frequency. The default red blink from BB is about once every 2 seconds. I found that most apps blink a lot faster, and actually gets a bit annoying. With Hub++, I'm able to put in pauses between blinks to have it blink at the rate that I want. It's a small thing, but I haven't had to change my settings since my initial setup.

Watcher is the King for me and so simple to use and set up and what more can I say it WORKS plus it is a spam filter also

Been using BeBuzz all the way back to my Pearl days, thru 2 Curves, then my Torch, and now my Z10. It is always the first app I load when changing devices or doing a reload (though that has never happened since getting my Z10)... :)

I have tried all except Power Tools.

For me BeBuzz was the simplest in set up, while still having enough options. But the reliability of the headless service was just too low for my taste.

I have since changed to Hub++. The set up process is a bit more complicated, but at least those account confirmations make me feel the app is actually learning and not just guessing.
The service for this one is excellent.

On a side note: apps say they support Skype, but Skype just gets the same notification as "Other apps". I hope 10.3 brings them the APIs to separate Android apps.

And you don't HAVE to disable all notifications in settings. You just have to disable the type you want the app to handle.

My verdict: Hub++.

Channel: C0007CC89 | CB10 signed.

BerryBuzz
Henrick may not be a super responsive developer, but he builds excellent apps! Its clean, stable, doesn't use a lot of resources, and does exactly want I want it to do.

Q10SQN100-1/10.2.1.3247

Very informative write up DJ. Is Bebuzz the only one that offers a recurring alert where the time delay between recurring alerts can be set?

Someone call the Sultan so he can bring this back.

Best LED app hands down.

I'm z10ing. Yes, I invented a verb.

I use Hub++ and love it. I set up the LED to flash green to let me know my phone is on like BBOS and RED for my main email and text. Set custom sounds for those as well. I have 5 other emails and they all have there own sound and light color. BBM of course gives me a blue LED. I even set up a time of the day were all notifications except LED are off. I love the fact that I can totally customize it and backup my settings.

What I love the most about BeBuzz is that it is simple and in harmony with BlackBerry’s default settings for LED notifications. I do use BlackBerry’s own LED for some unsupported apps, but with Hub++ I ran into the problem that the LED interval was just too long/short and the duration too short (up to 50 blinks or indefinitely, which is about 5–10 minutes), creating a disparity. BeBuzz just extends BlackBerry’s defaults and works better as a result. Hub++ is a nuisance to set up if you’re inexperienced with BlackBerry 10 and I never went for PowerTools as it just does too much for my needs.

What I dislike about BeBuzz is that it can use a lot of energy if you receive a lot of notifications during the day. Occasionally it peaked at 5% of energy usage, making it one of the most resource-intensive third-party apps for me that only runs in the background. Other than that, BeBuzz has been completely reliable for me. It never glitched or anything.

For my Hub++ settings, for text message, I use "R----------R----------R----------" Use as many pauses as you like, but I fill up one entire row of "pauses", gives me a 2 second pause between blinks. By doing that, instead of 50 blinks, I now have 150 blinks!

Power Tools can also use the camera video flashlight when you flip the device over.

You can control the number of flashes and delay.

PT also have vip status even if the sound profile is set to silent or vibrate it can still play the ringtone and blink the led.

I use hub++, which is a really nicely developed app with an intuitive ui in my opinion. Personally I prefer it to bebuzz, despite it being occasionally unreliable, usually if you open the app then close it again it will start working again.

Powertools is also worth buying, it has a variety of uses

Posted via CB10

I use Hub++ and my only issue with it is that when I customize the vibration for calls it only does the vibration sequence once and stops, but keeps the led sequence. There doesn't seem to be a way to make it continuous or repeat.

Posted via CB10

I want to be able to buy one of them at least. But i can't :(

Pantless Nation 's very own Rookie of the Year!

Hub++ all the way.

I used BeBuzz prior to, but there was a show stopper bug. Sometimes it would lose linking with contacts after a reboot. Hub++ just remembers the contact's number/email instead of the contact's address book guid. This same bug also caused the backup and restore to fail for a lot of my contacts.

Also, there was no way to customize the LED based off of email subject which is really restrictive as BeBuzz on BBOS had this.

Posted via CB10

So does watcher allow you to switch Profiles similar to os7? I need a better way to move from Normal to Silent to Vibrate on my z30

Posted via CB10

I use hub++ but I don't love it. I always used Advance OS & LED on my older BBs, there was no better app or app support! Ive also tried BeBuzz, but dont love that one either.

I've been using BeBuzz since my 9930, and I've stuck with it since I bought my Q10. The only thing that the current version is missing for me is the charging/charged LED light. I wish they had retained this for the BB10 version! Granted Hub++ has this feature, but unfortunately the indicator light blinks, and I prefer it to be solid, which is not an option. Oh well, I'm still happy to have the other functions.

I've been a fan of BeBuzz since the 9900 came out. So when I got my Q10, I also installed BeBuzz. But waited until it became headless before I really used it. However, it was unstable. It will stop notifications after a day or two until I reset my phone until I got tired doing it. I have since moved on to HUB++.

HUB++ also has its instability issues. Until now,I could not get the silent profile to work. I have also used powertools and watcher,but they are less customizable, at least for my needs. So I am stuck with HUB++ with all its faults...for now.

hm … i tried Hub+++ and Powertools agai9n and again.
but there where many bugs on my devices and every app update had made new bugs.

Powertools hat nice functions but like hub++ there are times, where it was impossible to stop the led blinking.

to bad that there is no advance os app like on the legacy os, the only really working and stable led app

Ok. I don't understand why this is not standard in BlackBerry 10!!! This is great function why this is not free and standard in BlackBerry? Only one type of color? It is joke. Please BlackBerry when you release 10.3 add this function!

Posted via CB10

My favorite is Watcher. Just works . Easy to setup and the extra functions are very useful.

Posted via CB10

I bought Watcher a few months ago and it works great. I set it up and have only changed it once when I moved work buildings. It is like Ronco... set it and forget it. it just works.

Favourite feature is the flip function. Also like the general ease of use. I don't need or want 150 settings for each option.

Btw, great comparison piece. Keep more of these coming. Maybe compare note/list taking apps. I need a good shopping app that can sync with my wife. Ie. She adds to the list throughout the day and I pick everything up on the way home from work.

Other comparison stories I'd like to see:
Movie apps
File sharing apps
Photo editing apps
Sports apps (ton, sportstnet, score, etc.)
Others?

Posted via CB10

I never understood why BlackBerry would include a multi-colored LED in it's phones that you couldn't use without paying for a third party app.

Posted via CB10

I'm a big fan of BeBuzz. Used it on BBOS and my Q10. Never had any issues with it.

Posted from my Tab 3 via Android CrackBerry App!

Downloading PowerTools as we speak....I had it for my Z10, why is it not showing up in MyWorld for my Q10, using the same BBID

Power Tools needs an update; it's getting patchy. I don't think the notion that we have to wait till 10.3. is particularly acceptable.

PS: why is there a Police Box ('Tardis') in the foreground of the illustration? Does one of these apps have the Dr. Who theme? If so, I'm there!

BeBuzz for BB10 sucks! It was perfect on the older devices, but its a crap shoot on the new phones. They are extremely slow to update, poor customer service and ignore consumer feedback.
It shouldn't even be allowed to be on BB10 because it doesn't fit with the OS's Flow design. I hate it. I will never use another BeBuzz product again. Its a shame cuz this was my favorite app on my Curves and Bolds. Now its just a pain in the arse on BB10.

Posted via CB10

I've tried both PowerTools & BeBuzz on my Q10(10.2.1.2977) and can't get either of them to control LED colours. BeBuzz is on the face of it very easy to set up but it doesn't work for me. Disappointing. I was a big fan of the Bellshare OS7 app, and was keen to run the same on my Q10. Perhaps I'm doing something wrong ...

Posted via CB10

I use Watcher. It's simple, clean, and functional. The profile scheduler and wallpaper changer are nice bonuses too.

What would be nice in any one of them is to have a different notification for BBM Groups vs BBM. Being as though none have it, I'm assuming it is an OS limitation.

HUB++ works well though not optimally for me. I would love to see the assignment of a LED based on contact - something like Advance OS and LED on BBOS - so as long as a text, BBM, email or whatever comes in from that contact, it flashes the assigned LED. The fact that I have to set up filters for contacts with multiple email address is way too tedious.