It wasn't too big of a jump for me - I retired my AT&T 8300 (bought it the first day they hit the market) and moved into the T-Mobile's WiFi equipped Curve. Other than the change of color (I got it in Titanium), addition of WiFi and slightly better build quality on the keyboard (my 8300's keyboard was very "loose") the phone's are basically identical. Since I'm running the phone unlocked on Rogers in Canada I don't get to take advantage of unlimited calling via UMA, but at least the WiFi should help cut back on some of my ridiculous data bills. Despite the similarities, I did still find myself making some newbie posts in the forums over the weekend.
As all CrackBerrys know, a new BlackBerry smartphone means a new device PIN, which also means that until your BlackBerry Messenger contacts add your new PIN that you are unconnected and off the radar. Luckily, thanks to the CrackBerry.com-powered BlackBerry PIN Exchange application for Facebook, this process of getting my new device PIN out was fast and painless.
Getting Your New Device PIN to Your BBM Friends
Though the BlackBerry PIN Exchange is still officially in 'Beta' as we're still working on some tweaks and improvements, it now has over 14,000 users which happen to include all of the people I normally am in contact with via BlackBerry Messenger. As soon as my BlackBerry was booted up for the first time, I logged into Facebook and clicked through to the PIN Exchange app. I updated my device PIN on my profile box, and from there clicked over to the "Friends" tab which showed me all of my Facebook friend's device PINs. It only took 4 minutes to whip through the list and send all my contacts over a new friend request over BBM (and in the request message I told them to delete my old PIN). Within 5 minutes, everybody had approved my request and I was once again connected to all my BBM peeps. I was pumped - under 10 minutes downtime is pretty good.
Having One Spot Where Your Friend's Current PINs are Stored is Soo Convenient!
It's not a totally automated process as you still need to make your Friend requests through BBM manually, but just having all of your friends' current PINs located in one easy-to-find place is so good. As long as your buddies keep their device PINS up to date on the exchange, you are good to go.
Now ideally what we need to develop still is an application that can be installed onto the BlackBerry which would pull your friend's device PINs out of the PIN Exchange on Facebook, put them onto your BlackBerry and then tie into BBM to make the PIN requests automatically (could be cool if from time to time it also allowed you to re-sync to make sure your PINs are all current). I'm not sure if this is technically doable, but it would be awesome. If you're a BlackBerry software developer and reading this and want to tackle it, be sure to shoot me an email!
Other BlackBerry PIN Exchange Updates
If you're a Facebook user and haven't heard of the BlackBerry PIN Exchange yet you can read about it here or better yet, head over to PinExchange.com and add the application to your Facebook profile page. If you're new to BlackBerry Messenger (and are wondering what all this PIN talk is about) check out our BlackBerry 101 on it. And if you're already a member of the PIN Exchange but haven't checked it out in a while, you should login to Facebook and see some of the latest features:
Tile View Browsing
For those who choose to share their PIN on the public exchange (you can of course adjust your privacy settings so you only share it with your approved friends or on your Facebook profile) you can now browse the exchange via profile pictures!
Browsing by Tile View - When You Cursor Over an Image it Shows the Name.
I'm actually in this picture... Where's Waldo?!
This function is only available for PIN Exchange users in the United States right now (Canada coming online soon, Europe to follow), but it allows users to enter in their Zip code which then plots their approximate locations onto Google Maps. So if you're looking to exchange PINs with people in a given area, this makes it fun and easy to browse for contacts geographically. Like with everything on the PIN Exchange, participation is totally at your choosing - you can opt in/opt out as you like.
I blocked my PIN - you'll have to track me down on the PIN Exchange if you want it!
I'm located in Canada so the Map View currently isn't available to me - to snap the picture above I temporarily used the only US ZIP Code I know by heart - Good 'Ole Beverly Hills 90210!!
As mentioned previously, we're still working on some tweaks and improvements to the PIN Exchange (which means you could potentially come across some bugs - if you do find any just report them rather than leave a negative app review, as we will get em fixed up asap). We'll be expanding the map view, and are working on more ways to search/filter for contacts among some other bells and whistles.