You're browsing the web, beating your BrickBreaker high score, or perhaps organizing your Calendar when a message comes in. Your Berry vibrates or chirps a notification, that LED blinking red, urging - nay- seducing you into checking your inbox. Sound familiar? It should. I've been a victim of this many, many times. Is the message important enough to stray from the task at hand? The time has arrived for a solution, the ability to choose which is more important. Now as long as they can behave themselves, I would like to show you not one, but two poppin' applications; PeeKaWho and Aerize Email Alerts.
Both of these applications grant your Berry the ability to alert you of an incoming message via popups. Since these two applications are somewhat similar, why not have a side by side comparison? To really get into the popup mood, open the full review in a new window folks!
In Your Face!!
Okay, so here's the basic concept of both applications; No matter what you are doing on your Berry, a pop up window will appear with details of the latest message. The popup will display a contact picture (if applied in your address book), sender information, subject and either the preview of the message or the message in its entirety, depending on its size. In this popup you will be able to manage the message or close the window. Your profiles will remain unchanged, so rest assured that the Transformer Sound Effect used for my SMS Messages will still work.
Why not? As I said before, there's been way too many times where an email has arrived (perhaps the one I've been anticipating) and I was in the middle of finishing an important task or entry in another application. Besides reviewing application after application, my Berry works overtime to keep me in contact with everybody, keep me organized and keep me entertained. I need to know if the new delivery to my inbox is more important than the task at hand. Why RIM hasn't introduced this type of solution before, I don't know. Now that I've tried these applications, I can't go back and dwell in the email darkness.
To be fair, I have covered the latest versions of each application. Time to take a look at the contenders...
By Orion North America, who also bring you SmrtGuard (Simpson's reference?). The latest version of PeeKaWho will notify you of both incoming email and SMS messages. PeeKaWho is designed to generate a popup within any application, including the main screen. The popup will display a contact picture (if applied in your address book), name of contact, subject and the beginning of the email body. The application will start working for you upon download, there's no need to set up permissions. When you download you are prompted to choose the correct installation file. There is one file for OS 4.3 or higher, another for OS 4.2.1 and OS 4.2.2 and a third for OS 4.1 and OS 4.2.0.
When I received an email, PeeKaWho pops up a window displaying an image (or PeekaPic) from sender's address book entry, name or email address/mobile number, subject and message preview. Below the Email message, icons display your options; dismiss popup, go to inbox or delete. For the SMS Message, your options are dismiss and inbox. Deciding that the email is important enough to respond to immediately, select inbox and respond, forward or whatever usual steps you take. Close the inbox and you are taken right back to the application you were in when the popup first appeared.
If you're not happy with the way PeeKaWho functions, visit its options menu. Here, you can choose to view popups for Emails and/or SMS messages. You can also decide to disable "peekapics", when the popup will auto fade away or if popups will display when connected via USB. Lastly, in the options menu, you can set contact and application filters. Popups can be set up to appear for specific email addresses found in your address book. Popups can also be denied visibility while you are accessing the following applications; Home screen, phone, browser, message, memo, task calendar and media.
PeeKaWho can also generate a test popup so you can preview your selected preferences. There is a known issue with html emails with users using OS 4.5. PeeKaWho built their software on OS 4.1.0 and OS 4.2.1. Look for a version on OS 4.5 heading your way soon.
PeeKaWho further extends its usefulness by integrating the application FollowUp! which is a fantastic "ToDo" list. For more information on FollowUp! click here.
Email Alerts v1.0.2
From Aerize, Email Alerts promises to "Cure BlackBerry Jitters." Before getting started, you must set up permissions for Email Alerts (Options> Advanced Option> Applications> Aerize Alerts> Edit Permissions for those who aren't sure.) In order for the application to fully function, make sure you enable permissions for Email/messaging and PIM. You can customize the Email/SMS Popups display, including font size and body preview condensing. Aerize has included a popup preview option that will help you determine which display settings you prefer.
Besides being able to choose to see popups for email, SMS messages, or both, Aerize includes additional filters. Email Alerts can show popups for;
Anyone - friends, co-workers, family or strangers. All Email or SMS Messages will pop up. Other wise known as turning filters off.
Sender is contact - The sender's email address will be looked up for a match in your address book. If there's a match in the address book, a popup will appear. If not, the message will be found in your inbox.
Sender has picture - a popup will display only if the sender is found in your address book AND that contact has an assigned picture.
When the popup window is displayed, you will see some management options. For emails, you will see Ok (dismisses the message, Open, Mark Read and Delete. For SMS Messages, you will see Ok and Open. Email Alerts also sports an auto-dismiss feature, allowing you to select a time limit for the popup. You can extend the "timer" by moving the trackball, in case the popup is about to disappear. You can also choose to disable the auto-dismiss, and leave the power in your hands.
Head to Head
Both show popups for Email and SMS Messages. Both support images assigned to contacts. When multiple messages appear at once, both applications would support multiple popups. However, I found the two worked from opposite directions. Email Alerts would display the popups as they come in (first one first), where PeeKaWho displayed the newest message first. Keep this in mind when deciding which app you will choose, as there is no way to change this. Not taking manual popup dismissing into consideration, the display time is longer with PeeKaWho, though Email Alerts could extend its time by you moving the trackball...
Filtering works slightly different with both applications. Email Alerts filter by address book and image and PeeKaWho filters by email address (what, no SMS?) and application restriction.
As far as visual appeal goes, it's a tie. In a perfect world, I would love the layout of Email Alerts with the font of PeeKaWho. I found PeeKaWho much easier to use for two reasons;
1. PeeKaWho comes out of the gates, working and ready to pop. Email Alerts requires you to set permissions, and it took me TWO battery pulls and one soft reset for it to work properly.
2. Stability. I found Email Alerts slow to respond at times, and the display would sometimes freeze.
Free trials are available for both applications, though Email Alerts offer 7 days and PeeKaWho...only 2 days (boo...).
I popped until I dropped
Though both offer the ideal messaging solution for everyone, PeeKaWho is the winner in my eye. This is mainly due to ease of use and stability. PeeKaWho works upon download, no need to set permissions and pull batteries. This should be especially useful for rookie BlackBerry abusers. Email Alerts is visually more appealing, but as loyal readers may know, I'll take function over fashion any day. I would love to see both applications supporting BlackBerry messenger. Finally, there's the cost; PeeKaWho is available for $6.95 and Email Alerts for $10.00, both are found at the CrackBerry Store. Check out both applications and see which one is best for you (probably best to try them one at a time!.
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Pros & Cons
Email Alerts Pros
Email Alerts Cons