Messaging app for Playbook OS 2.0: Explanation of the Unified inbox

Unified inbox
By Gary Mazo on 28 Feb 2012 03:19 pm EST

The Unified Inbox may very well be the "killer feature" of Playbook 2.0. Having one place in which to read and send all your messages is the future of mobile communication.

Prior to the OS 2.0 upgrade, the only way to email or message was to "Bridge" your BlackBerry to the Playbook. Even when bridged, you only had access to your various email accounts that were on your BlackBerry.

The Playbook surpasses virtually every other platform with the inclusion of a unified messaging inbox. What that means is that in one place - the Messages app - goes not only your email, but also Facebook messages, LinkedIn messages and Twitter Direct Messages.

Explanation of the Unified Inbox on the BlackBerry PlayBook

Getting Your Data In:

The beauty of the unified inbox is that is just works. The first time you start the Messages app, the Contacts app or the Calendar app, you will be prompted to "add accounts." When you add an email (i.e, Gmail) account, Facebook account, Twitter account or LInkedin account, any messages you receive will automatically go to the unified Messages inbox.

Account Setup 

NOTE: You can only have one Facebook, one Twitter and one Linkedin account going into the inbox.

For those who are Outlook users and want to get your Outlook information into the PlayBook, it is a bit more complicated - but it is doable! Probably the easiest thing to do is to sync your Outlook information with your Gmail account and then set up the Gmail account on the PlayBook. Find out how to do all that here.

Reading and Replying

If your inbox looks a bit cluttered, just touch the "@" icon at the top of the left hand row of vertical icons and each separate account will be listed. In this example, I only want to see my Facebook messages, so I just touched the Facebook icon.

Facebook Messages

The beauty of this is that you don't have to open the dedicated app (i.e., Facebook or Twitter) to respond. You can respond to and compose messages in all of your accounts right from the Messaging app. Each installed account has its own icon along the bottom of the vertical row of icons to the left of the screen. Just touch the Twitter icon along the left hand side of the Messaging app and send a Direct Message - it couldn't be easier! Since your Twitter contacts were installed automatically, the Playbook knows who you are trying to message.

Twitter Message

Want to send a Facebook message but don't want to get distracted by looking at everyone's updates? Just touch the Facebook icon and type away. Again, the Playbook already has your Facebook contacts, so it will try to match your contacts as you type in the "To" field.


To change the look at feel of your inbox, pull down the Menu by swiping down from the top. You can change the sort order by touching the Sort icon and then choose to sort by Date, Sender or Subject.

Inbox Options

You can also change the display of your inbox from Single Messages to Conversations by touching the Settings icon and next to Display As, choosing Conversations. In Conversation view you can see that the icon changes to show you that there are multiple emails in that thread. This makes it easier to follow a particular conversation and see all the related emails. Touch the top email of the Conversation thread and you will see every email in that thread. To return to the main email inbox, just touch the "back" arrow at the top.

Threaded Conversation

So, you can see that working with the Unified Inbox on Playbook 2.0 really helps not only keep you organized, it helps you fire off messages quickly to each of your Messaging account - all from one place. This is the future of messaging. This is why the Playbook smacked the iPad 2 in this category and it would, I dare say, smack just about any mobile device out there in this particular category right now.

Find out more tips and tricks and discuss anything related to your Playbook 2.0 in the PlayBook forums

Reader comments

Messaging app for Playbook OS 2.0: Explanation of the Unified inbox


Completely agree with you. For me it is almost useless if I cannot search Gmail accounts remotely (eg for previous years)

can someon please address the issues some people are running into:

1. why is setting up outlook\exchange email so difficult when other platforms can do it using active sync
2. why in some email accounts (yahoo) can't you file email messages in subfolders using imap?

let's ask the tough questions here! not everything is working perfectly.

I am having difficulties getting my messages box to work while bridged to my phone. It works as it should while in wi-fi

Nice write up. I had some issues with Gmail at first but found out it was a Google security issue and not a rim issue. Now all is fixed and my Google accounts are a bit more secure.

can we PLEASE stop perpetuating the misconception that the playbook had no way to do email except via bridge.

Drives me crazy.

NOT ALL IS WELL. When using Activesync, only three folders sync by default (Inbox, Outbox, and Sent Items). The other must be refreshed manually. On Apple and Android you can choose which folders sync automatically, but not on the Playbook. I have subfolders to my inbox and messages go the subfolder automatically, but these folders can't, unlike on Apple and Android, be sent to sync. So basically all I have is manual sync. I can't make use of the LED or any of the other great features. NOT ALL IS WELL.

Thanks, but it does not appear to be a server issues. I have a ton of knowledge of how this works and if it was a server issue I would have a similar problem on the Apple and Android platforms. No such problem there though. Having said that. My tech guys have confirmed.

How do you sync the contacts and calendars from the desktop like you do with the phones? I tried the Gmail method and didn't like it.

Until it also displays and connects with my bridged email accounts, I think we can barely call it a "unified" messaging app...

agreed. I was bummed to find my bridged BES email is a separate "app" from the unified messages app. and why can't the message app remember which account I wanted displayed upon closing and reopening? it seems "all" is the default....maybe some day I guess. :/

Agreed, although to be clear this refers to people using BES where server administrators do not allow ActiveSync. I guess that is still a large part of bb users and I can't believe RIM just gave up on us with 2.0 update, as we really cannot use the native email App in an integrated way.

Can someone explain why, if you use your BB and Bridge your messages and calendar, you would want to use this? I mean, emails I delete on my BB will not get deleted on my PB, and calendar entries I add on my BB will also not get added on my PB. What's the point? Should I just abandon using my Blackberry phone?

It really is such a good app! It has actually got me to start using Facebook because it's so convenient to keep in touch with people that way!

I'm really surprised with a lot of the negative comments, I for 1 love all the new features in OS2.. Its really helping me stay organized.. Most of all I love the remote feature with my PlayBook connected to my 46" TV.. Using Vlingo speech to text adds to it also making it even better

I'm surprised that more people haven't commented on how much of a battery hog the new native programs are or the fact that there appears to be something not quite right in terms of setting up manual sync which, ironically, seems to make battery life even worse - see threads on this forum for a much more detailed discussion.

In my case, having just one email account - my hotmail account - and native email going, my battery would plummet in standby that it was next to impossible to have my Playbook retain a charge in a 24 hour period.

Now, having removed my hotmail account from the native email app and only using bridged email, my device easily lasts 2 days. Point is, my exact same type of usage with native email app - less than 1 day of battery use; with bridged email only/no native email app in use - more than 2 days of use.

Something is not quite right here if there is that much difference in power consumption.

This is exaclty what I dont like about os2.0. Why does the unified inbox have to merge all my adress books? I like to have my business email address book separate from the personal one.

My name in FB is not my real one, I do not want to integrate my business email and address book and get them to merge with my FB address book nor I want my business contacts to be able to add as thier friend in FB.

I also have several lines of business but I want my linkedin profile to be available only to one of my lines of business.

I think the email on OS2.0 is too social and give away too much personal information thats why I stick to bridge.

Agreed, my contacts app is full of twitter and facebook contacts lots of which have no telephone numbers. We should have the option to only add contacts with telephone numbers or not have them show up in the contacts app or be in a separate social contact list.

I was looking forward to the native apps but they still require some work. Now that OS 2.0 is out the door on time, let's hope RIM updates 2.0 soon to clear up some of its shortcomings.

BB Curve 8900
Iphone 4s 32GB
64GB Playbook - OS 2.0

This analysis is a very good one, knowing that it is ALSO managing the bridge in it as well as the other accounts!
Next step will be to have a ONE messaging tool for the text '& the images, BBM on the Playbook managing the sms and the mms if you are bridged along all the other accounts (Google talk, windows messenger , Ms communicator office. Etc etc …)

I don't use the PlayBook or my torch for business use, so this might just be me, but I don't like not being able to go into my other folders in my Hotmail account. I can move messages there, but can't open them from the Messaging app. Also I don't like having all the old emails just sitting there. I look at some and delete junk mail, but would like to be able to clear all ala the delete all option on the phones. Speaking of Junk mail, I can't open that folder to just get rid of the crap, or file something as junk from my inbox, so I just end up using the actual Hotmail app. I don't message much on FB and I don't have Twitter so this is almost useless to me. Like I said maybe its just me....

If you currently use bridge then this feature sucks!!! why would I want my messages twice? And deleting it in one place doesn't remove it in the other. No thank you RIM, please integrate the inbox with the bridge

all you have to do is disable messages in your bridge app...chill.

and is it just me or does messages (or any of the native PIM apps) not work in portrait mode?

go into the bridge app on your phone. scroll down to where your tablet name is, click on that. click on 'device properties,' and from there you can check/uncheck parts of bridge you want to connect. uncheck the 'messages' box and messages won't go through bridge. you can enable/disable any bridge function you like

Why so angry people? At first, I too, had trouble syncing my work email on an exchange server, then yesterday it went fine. I have no issues with calendar appointments., contacts, etc syncing. My calendar is through the exchange server. I also have 2 personal emails and linkedin.

This united inbox is wonderful. Android and Apple are p****ed they didn't think of it first. If they had you all would be touting how innovative it truly is.....RIM sticks it to Apple and yet you still are not happy. Who needs enemies with friends like you people.

Thanks for the posting!!! . Very informative and helpful! .. Please post more "How to do ... with Playbook 2.0!!" Many are not aware of some of the amazing features of Playbook 2.0!!

by the way, I love the Playbook 2.0 ... IMO .. Best Tablet out there! ...

I travel for business and personal all over the world and use the Playbook every day!!!

Hi @world traveler and former ceo,

Ty from RIM here. Sounds like you’re putting your PlayBook to work as you rack up miles traveling the globe! We enjoyed reading CrackBerry’s take on the PlayBook’s new unified inbox and are glad to hear you did, too. For more tips, you may want to check out the Inside BlackBerry Help Blog. We regularly update the site with helpful posts for PlayBook OS 2.0 users, just like this one on getting started with Documents To Go:

Ty, RIM Social Media Team

I think all the different issues people are having are interesting and I hope personnel at RIM are reading this so that they get an idea of where they can improve. I don't like bashing and the others shouldn't too but I know alot of you are frustrated, trust me...I know! It took me two days to get my Yahoo email working, simply ridiculous. Again, hope RIM people are reading this so they can get started on those updates. I'd like to point out something to them also: Can you please make a dock with like 3 full size USB slots, an HDMI and a full size SDXC card slot PLEASE! I looks so unprofessional laying the tablet down to give a presentation or whatever. Also, please add USB hosting and DLNA, thanks!

Sorry, I'm really disappointed with this. I'm on the verge of just removing my accounts and going back to using the Bridge.

I don't use Facebook or LinkedIn, and my Twitter conversations are nothing I want commingled with personal or work email. I don't blame the app for this, it's just not useful to me.

Where I do blame it is that there's no Google+ integration which I do use. Far, far worse is that there's no SMS integration - even using the Bridge. This has been a feature on BlackBerry phones for many years. It was a big oversight on the PlayBook.

My IMAP mail server with SSL encryption had to be set up manually, unlike on my last four phones where I just put in the username and password, and the phone figured it out. Also, there is no support for email accounts. This seems like a no-brainer.

Oh well... back to the Bridge I guess. I suppose I shouldn't hold my breath for SMS either. I'll have to keep swapping devices, getting more irritated with each text message.

SMS messages are tied to a phone number hence not included on a table because there is no associated phone number. I'm never without my BB phone so I get all my mail and messages on there. I never really cared if it had native email or not. I can see that it opens up a whole new market for rim though for people that do not own a BB phone

I don't know if it's just me, but I had to try severally before I could add my yahoo, gmail and hotmail accounts. It took several several multiple retries before it went through. Now that it has, my contacts have not been loaded onto my playbook. Same for my calendar. So far as I can tell, there's no other way to sync your contacts, calendar, memos, etc even from your computer using BB desktop software (although I updated it to the latest version). Needless to say, this is kinda disappointing.

Also, no universal search, no portrait mode to view the PIM apps...

I still laud RIM for innovating and provide these exciting additions to the core OS, although they still have a LOT of work to do improving these apps.

I loved having the Facebook and twitter messages included but it also started pulling all my contacts from Facebook into the contact list and I was afraid it was going to screw up my contact list on my phone and gmail when it started to sync so I deleted both accounts and just use the website to view and got the contacts out of there before they could cause any trouble

I still can't get this blackberry playbook working on my curve 2.But I think its the best thing that has happened to me lately