I've had over a week now to play with my new Torch 9800/BlackBerry 6 and simply put, I love it. I've always been a "BlackBerry Guy". I didn't set out to compare the device to other smartphones to see what better fit me. I know BlackBerry works for what I need, and RIM's latest creation fit the bill perfectly. I love the features that the Torch has to offer, as well as the great updates in BlackBerry 6. That being said, there are a few fairly big downsides with the software as well that leave me scratching my head. As you read this, keep in mind it's just a rant in hopes of getting some things fixed up. I encourage you to play around, see what you can find as well and leave a comment below.
One of the things I looked forward to most in BlackBerry 6 was the Social Feeds app. To have RSS integrated with my Twitter and Facebook would be ideal I thought. Well now that I've had the chance to fire it up I have to say I'm not that thrilled with it. If you were to use AIM, Gtalk, MSN, Yahoo!, Facebook, Myspace and BBM all on your device, sure, I can see how it would be handy to have. As it stands I really only use Facebook, BBM and Twitter so the Social Feeds app isn't really worth using in my opinion. I find that using the Twitter app is much easier and I rarely check BBM status' or Facebook updates from my device. Along with that, the RSS reader is very cool. I love that it easily pulls feeds and keeps them where they need to be on the device. At the same time, I've become a big fan of the Google Reader iPhone site that seems to do a much better job of RSSing me. I said in the past I was super excited to have integrated RSS, but I think it needs a bit more "polish" before I convert full time. It really comes down to what you like and what you do on your device (so each person will be different) but I found that I'm really not a fan of the Social Feeds app and don't think I'll be using it any time soon.
I get where RIM was going with the Views. Having different places for different items is a great idea, having them set and totally not customizable however isn't. Firstly I'm not a big media guy. I use the camera every now and then and look at photos once or twice a week, but I
rarely never watch videos or play music on my device. Why? Thats just me, I don't have the need. So for that reason I really have zero need to have a Media view on my device. I'd be fine with just having a media folder (as I had on all my other devices) and leave it at that.
This one just left me asking why. I download and install apps all the time. I know what I download and where it goes, so having a Downloads view really confuses me. It essentially doubles up my icons, so even if I have an app on my homescreen (All view) it still shows in my downloads. Want to hide it from downloads? No such luck. Hide the icon in the Download view and it hides elsewhere. Want to clear your downloads? You can try using the Clear Downloads menu item but it won't get you anywhere (this is a software thing, as I am not able to clear downloads in .141 but I can in .161). So basically your icons just sit here in another erroneous view waiting for you to want to use them.
This view I like ... kind of. I love that I can throw in some favorites for my BBM and/or address book contacts and go right to them. It helps speed things up and keeps me close to the people I contact the most. I do like the ability to add other things like browser bookmarks here as well, however I find that most times I go straight to my browser and just pick a bookmark as opposed to scrolling to my Favorites and launching from there. What don't I like about Favorites? Plenty. I don't like that just like downloads I get icons all over the place. If I want to have Kevin's BBM show in my favorites I can do that, but I also end up with an icon somewhere else too. Hide the extra icon and it hides the other. Dumb. To somewhat get around this issue I created a favorites folder on my homescreen and stuck all my favorites in there. It doesn't solve the problem completely, it just fixes it. I shouldn't have to fix it. The worst part? Favorites get ordered in the view in the order you add them. If you have 5 contacts already listed and add a 6th that you want to show first, too bad. After you reboot they'll rearrange and stay in the order in which they were added.
This view I kind of get. It keeps my most used app nicely organized so I can get to them quickly. The only problem? I don't use the many apps. I typically keep the dock on my All view pulled out to show 8 icons with the apps I use most. I know where they are and they never change. So for me, the Frequent view really serves no purpose. I know its there, but often forget and I don't think that I have launched a single app from it yet.
This is where it gets good. My All view is where I live. Its there for the taking, allowing me to arrange my icons how I wish, and my constant landing page. Just like every other device homescreen, this is where it all happens and that's all there is too it. Out of the 5 views this is really the only one I need or care to use -- and that's that.
So now what?
Now granted the Views and Social Feeds are just a small part of what is BlackBerry 6, but they are also the most obvious if you will. They are a main selling point/feature of the OS, and really the start of either a good or bad BlackBerry 6 experience. There is much more within the OS itself (which I'll get into more as I keep using the device) but I feel that these two features alone can make or break a users experience.
When it comes down to it the Torch and BB6 are a great combo. The more I use the device however, the more I think BB6 on other devices would also be a great combo. While I love the Torch's keyboard and screen, I think that some productivity is lost in the process. Having BB6 on a 9700 or 9780 would be killer in my opinion. I can easily see the 9700 moving back to being my favorite device when BB6 graces us. I don't doubt that using the software on other devices won't change my view, but I think that it will obviously be a totally different experience.
So how can this all be fixed? Well keep in mind it's really a "to each his own" thing. I'm sure there are loads of users who have no issues at all having all 5 views. While others love maybe 3 and not the rest. I personally think the best route here would have been to let the user customize them, at least in some aspects. Make them act more like folders - give us 5 or 3 or however many views that we can rename and/or delete as we see fit and use them how we please. Let me make an Instant Messaging for my IM apps. Let me make and Applications view for random crap I don't want to look at. Don't have favorites show in more that one place. Let me clear my downloads. The Views tried to do so much, but really need a good revamping to be what they need to be. I appreciate the thought process behind the layout, but I think they really cater to a certain userbase, or a few various users, and not to the BlackBerry user as a whole. What do you think? Do you use all the views or are you with me on this one? Leave a comment and let us know.