BlackBerry News and Reviews

BlackBerry WebWorks SDK for Smartphones v2.1 now available

Some good news for BlackBerry developers making use of the BlackBerry WebWorks SDK. BlackBerry WebWorks SDK for Smartphones v2.1 is now available and brings with it some new offerings to help make developing smartphone applications a little easier:

 New capabilities available to WebWorks developers for BlackBerry Smartphones are:

  • NTLM & BASIC Authentication support (NTLM support requires a BlackBerry Enterprise Server)
  • Camera API (take a picture or a video)
  • Top Banner Indicator API
  • Enhanced Push APIs
  • Improved rendering speeds for applications not using loading/transition screens

The new banner API and Push API's here are pretty excellent, developers can now use the push API to "wake" applications up and combined with the new banner API inform you, as a user that you have recieved a notification within whatever app it is making use of the new services. For the full details, make sure you check out the BlackBerry Dev Blog.

BlackBerry Developers Blog

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More Details on new BlackBerry Music sharing service emerge!

Following up yesterday's post on the previously-rumored BlackBerry Music app that RIM is said to be rolling out soon, we're starting to get a better picture of exactly how this service will function. Here's the latest summary of what we can expect:

  • Users will have to download the new standalone BlackBerry music app from App World
  • Once installed, there *should* be a free trial (may vary by country/carrier - but expect a month free)
  • Once the free trial expires, the service will cost $5/mo.
  • With the app installed, you can choose up to 50 songs of your choice. Apparently the catalog selection is pretty good!
  • From there, you invite your contacts via BBM, etc. to also download the app if they don't have it and join your music sharing network (invited contacts must pay the $5/mo. also to take part and remain part of the service).
  • From there, you can listen to not only the 50 songs you've selected), but any of the 50 songs from your music sharing network. So if you have 20 contacts, you'll have access to 1,000 other songs in addition to your 50. We're not sure yet if there's a limit to how many people you can share with, but essentially the more people in your music sharing group the more music you'll have access to.

I like the premise, though of course I'm not a huge fan of the price. But if it hits critical mass it'll be an interesting way to discover new music from your friends and colleagues and I think I'd personally shell out for that. Especially if we see some advanced stats tracking too - I wouldn't mind knowing which songs from within my network get listened to the most so I know which of my friends to put in charge of DJing my next party.

Assuming it launches as outlined above, how are you liking the concept? Would you pay $5 for it? Think all your friends will too? Let us know what you think in the comments!

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BlackBerry Curve 9360/70 land at the FCC

Although still not official from RIM, all leaks point to the BlackBerry Curve 9360/70 as being the next devices in the BlackBerry line to be unveiled, and todays FCC filings are a sure sign of that. Both the 9360 and 9370 have just appeared at the FCC. RDD71UW, RDC771UW are what they are currently listed as. The filings don't call out the specs but it does confirm NFC is onboard for both variations. Need a specs refresher?

  • Tavor MG-1 800mHz processor
  • 512MB of RAM / 512MB eMMC
  • Built in Digital Compass
  • 1050mAh Battery
  • 5MP Camera w/ Flash
  • 480x360 Display
  • Built in WiFi
  • Built in NFC
  • Built in GPS
  • BlackBerry 7 (Lite?)
  • Bluetooth

We're guessing that's what the UK announcement is for but we'll have to wait it out and see. As you can tell, the specs are well below that of the previously announced BlackBerry 7 line-up but for Curve fans out there, the update keeps the low-cost model in mind while still pushing it ahead ever so slightly.

Source: FCC; via: CrackBerry Forums

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ePhone turns your PlayBook into a ridiculously large phone

So besides the amazing Video Chat feature that PlayBook users have, there aren’t many other options available in order to reach out and touch someone. Skype is not officially available for the PlayBook at this time though workarounds do exist. In fact, a response found on their site pointed out that “We currently have no plans for the PlayBook…Hopefully the PlayBook will be a hit for RIM, and if so we will create a version of Skype for the product at that time.” You’ve got to love how vague that is.

Not too long ago, we received an email about Comwave ePhone. Currently in beta, ePhone can make/receive phone calls directly from your PlayBook! They do have a free 3 day trial period; where you can play around with 100 minutes, followed by an annual subscription of $20 if you decide to keep the service. With your subscription you get 250 minutes per month to use to call 57 countries. In the trial period, and with your subscription, you also get:

  • Our own number
  • Unlimited incoming calls
  • Free ePhone to ePhone voice and video calling

The mic and speakers on the PlayBook are both excellent to use if you are doing a conference call, but you may look like an idiot holding it up to your face to chat one on one. You can also visit shopcrackberry.com to pick up a handy headset or two. You can grab Comwave ePhone from BlackBerry App World.

More information/download ePhone for thr BlackBerry PlayBook

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Quick Review: Dead Space for the BlackBerry PlayBook

Yesterday we saw the release of EA's latest game for the BlackBerry PlayBook, Dead Space. It's a pretty amazing action game that brings gaming on the PlayBook to a new level. While the price tag is a bit high for a game at $9.99, many of you have already jumped in and purchased Dead Space. Personally I love it so far and the $9.99 isn't that much for a game of this caliber. For those of you that haven't yet made the decision, check out the video above for some of the gameplay and hopefully you can get a better idea if Dead Space is for you.

More information/download of Dead Space for BlackBerry PlayBook

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Another BlackBerry UK press event being held on August 23rd

Early in the month of August we saw a press event occur in the UK announcing the shiny new BlackBerry 7 devices that RIM has to offer. We’ve already seen the BlackBerry Bold 9900 available through Vodafone UK and are hoping to see the Torch 9860 and Torch 9810 arrive soon as well.

It seems that RIM will be holding another BlackBerry press event in London on August 23rd. However, no details have been given as to what the event will entail. Could we be seeing the announcement of more BlackBerry 7 devices like the BlackBerry Curve 9360 or BlackBerry Curve 9380 that have been leaked around the interwebs? Or is it another kind of BlackBerry event entirely for Enterprise or the BlackBerry PlayBook? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Details are sketchy as of now, all we know is:

Date: Tuesday 23rd August
Time: 9:00am
Location: A Central London location

Source: Tracy and Matt

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Mobile Nations Podcast 005: A wedding and a funeral

After recording our BlackBerry 7 Smarpthone Review CrackBerry Podcast Super Special earlier this week, on Thursday night we recorded live a Mobile Nations podcast to discuss all the crazy stuff happening. Beyond talking new BlackBerry phones again, on this show Phil, Derek, Dan, Georgia, Rene and myself talk HP dumping webOS hardware, Google picking up Motorola Mobility, and what it means all means for RIM, Microsoft and Apple. This is Mobile Nations!

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Facebook for BlackBerry receives an update to fix timeline refresh issues and application freezes

We all know that Facebook for BlackBerry is a hit or miss, depending on the user, but today the folks have released an update to address some issues that users were seeing. Many of us, myself included, got stuck with a timeline that wouldn't refresh or once the application was launched, it would just freeze up -- sometimes to the extent that a battery pull was needed. The update to version 2.0.0.45 should address both of these issues and probably some others that they didn't list, but either way be sure to hop into App World and grab the update now.

Download the Facebook for BlackBerry update

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BlackBerry News for the BlackBerry PlayBook updated to version 1.1; brings portrait mode and read articles

BlackBerry News for the BlackBerry PlayBook is actually one of my favorite applications for the BlackBerry tablet. Rather than presenting all of your news items in lists of lists of lists, News shows your RSS feeds laid out like a magazine. Complete with images, headlines, and inspired layouts, BlackBerry News is a beautiful (and efficient) way of viewing your articles.

Version 1.1 brings quite a number of improvements to the application.

  • Read articles are now marked as read
  • Portrait mode support for all screens in application
  • ‘New' content indicator on home screen
  • Ability to update channels through data tethering
  • Ability to switch channels while in magazine view 
  • Ability to go to previous/next article in the article view
  • Ability to view a feed immediately once subscribed to it 

Not only that, but the once-laborious update process - for gathering new news - appears to be much more streamlined. The app completes its updates much more quickly than before and continues to gather data even after that "updating" screen disappears. Switching between articles or feeds once required a tap of the back button. No longer; switch between articles by tapping the arrows at the bottom or between feeds by swiping down from the top.  

Version 1.1 of the BlackBerry News App for the PlayBook is a welcome and well-executed update to a wonderful free application. BlackBerry News is available to users in the United States and Canada.

Download / Update BlackBerry News App for PlayBook from BlackBerry App World

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From the Forums: Dead Space, Casemate for 9900 looks great, and BBM in daily life

Today brought crazy news today about HP and webOS, and an epic Mobile Nations live podcast. You can check out the latest news and rumors in the blogs, and then head on over to the CrackBerry forums and see what's up with your fellow CrackBerry addicts. Below is a sample of some interesting threads you won't want to miss.

Found an interesting article you want to share with CrackBerry Nation? Have a burning question about that feature you just can't figure out? There is ALWAYS more happening just a click away in the forums. You can always head over and join in the conversation, search for answers, or lend your expertise to other members of our community. If you aren't already, take a moment to get registered in the CrackBerry forums today!

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EA's Dead Space lands on the BlackBerry PlayBook

Looking for a killer action-adventure game for your BlackBerry PlayBook? Of course you are, and one of the best action-adventure games has now landed in BlackBerry App World for the BlackBerry PlayBook. Dead Space, from EA will have you kicking some serious alien butt.

  • Fight with Weapons and Telekinesis -- Experience the hardcore gameplay as you struggle to survive the Necromorph onslaught in 6 varied environments.  Access the Plasma Saw and Core Extractor, plus 3 more weapons from the Dead Space universe – then get on with the business of strategic dismemberment!
  • Graphics, Effects, and Sound Increase the Horror -- EA delivers an incredibly frightening experience with state-of-the-art graphics and effects, an audio system that will have you jumping out of your seat, and a truly horrific atmosphere that is permeated with death, mutilation, and despair. You'll have to be resilient to slash through the alien onslaught and stop this virulent scourge.

We'll get a hands-on video shortly but for now -- you can grab the download from BlackBerry App World for $9.99 and get to whooping some alien arse!

Download Dead Space for the BlackBerry PlayBook
Discuss in the CrackBerry Forums

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SixTools updated with OS 7 compatibility, screenshot function and more - 50 copies up for grabs!

SixTools from ShaoSoft has been updated for OS 7 and brings along some new features. If you're ticked that the latest BlackBerry 7 devices only have one convenience key, SixTools has your solution. With this handy app you can easily add functions to your volume keys and mute key giving you bonus convenience keys. You also get a battery meter, low battery alert, holster sounds and much more. The biggest addition in this version is that of a screenshot function - so now you can set any of your volume or convenience keys to snap a screenshot. SixTools then lets you send the image via email, Twitter, BBM and more. A few tweaks were also made to get things rolling smoothly with OS 7.

Contest: We have 50 copies of SixTools up for grabs. Just leave a comment on this post to enter. Contest ends this Sunday at midnight PST. 

More information/download of SixTools

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BlackBerry Music said to be well under development, beta coming in the next few weeks?

The news of RIM working on a "BlackBerry Music" application isn't exactly new -- we've heard the rumors in the past but new information is suggesting that RIM has come to agreements with major music labels for the new service and development is going as planned. According to CNET:

RIM has signed a deal with at least one of the top-four record companies and is close to signing at least two others, the sources said, adding that a test version of the service could be rolled out within the next few weeks.

Other then that, solid details have been rather slim. The new service, when rolled out -- is said to be BBM connected and set for subscription based pricing that will cost users $4.99 once out of beta. The information is rather interesting especially when you take into account that right now, all BlackBerry 7 devices rolling out have a "Music Store" icon loaded but that store is powered by Amazon MP3. We're reluctant to say expect a beta within the next few weeks though, reason being -- We've heard RIM themselves have only been testing it internally for a short period if time.

Source: CNET

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And then there were four - HP shutting down webOS device operations

In what was otherwise a normal day for tech news, HP made the announcement just an hour ago that they will be shutting down webOS device operations -- aka ending operations for the TouchPad and webOS phones. That means RIM, Apple, Google and Microsoft are the only big players left in the game. The news comes as a pretty big shock, however details are still fairly sparce at this time. The TouchPad was a pretty sweet device and honestly we're sorry to see it go. How will this play out in the long haul? Only time will tell.

So what are your thoughts on the end of webOS? Sound off in the comments and be sure to follow all the news and updates over at our sibling site precentral.net.

Source: Pre Central

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How to show and hide home screen panels in BlackBerry 7

One of our biggest gripes with BlackBerry OS 6 was those pesky home screen panels (or "views"). Using a trackpad device it was always a pain to stay on the panel you wanted and not randomly scroll to a different one. If you read our BlackBerry Bold 9780 review, you can recall Kevin went on quite a bit of a rant about just that:

I constantly find myself accidentally scrolling between views while attempting to open specific applications ... Namely, my main messages app is always the first icon on the screen, so when I scroll quickly to it, I end up overshooting and change to the next view. Over the course of an average day, I've been finding myself accidentally scrolling to the next screen anywhere from 15 to 30+ times a day ... I'm not alone on this one either. It actually makes me kind of mad that RIM released BlackBerry 6 without having the ability to go back to a simpler homescreen experience, either via an option to disable homescreen views or by providing an alternative theme that does not have the views built in. 

Well BlackBerry 7 brings the ability to disable the extra panels on the home screen, making many happy campers much happier. Totally something that should have been in BlackBerry 6 from the go but for some reason was left out. Here's how to do it:

  1. From the home screen,  press the Menu key then choose Manage Panels
  2. Uncheck the boxes for the panels you don't want on your home screen (All is default and can't be hidden)
  3. Save and you're done. Welcome to a panel free BlackBerry!

For more tips on using your device be sure to check out all of our help and how-to posts. If you found a new tip that you think should be shared with the CrackBerry Nation, send it along to tips(at)crackberry.com.

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RIMPIRE STRIKES BACK: BlackBerry Super Fans talk BlackBerry 7, and welcoming in a new fan!

[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

With BlackBerry 7 Smartphones beginning to hit the market, I can't help but feel we're gaining some momentum again on the RIMPIRE STRIKES BACK front.

Loyal BlackBerry super fans are obviously stoked about the new lineup. These are by far the sweetest BlackBerry Smartphones to date (enter to win your choice of a new BB7 phone here!). Be sure to check out the video above from the recent BlackBerry 7 Fan Night to see what super fans are loving about the Bold 9900/9930 and Torch 9850/9860/9810. Yours truly makes a brief appearance at 4 seconds in giving the 'ole Rick Flair Woooo!

But beyond the loyal fans, what has me really excited are the number of tweets, emails, forum posts, blog comments and calls I've been seeing and receiving from people who are currently on other platforms but are switching to BlackBerry to give the new phones a go. Some of these are ex-BlackBerry users giving up the iPhone 4s and Android phones they left BB for, while others are picking up BlackBerry for the first time. Looks like we have have some new BlackBerry fans emerging here!

One such fan is Matt Miller, over at ZDnet, who posted an article today titled Becoming a BlackBerry fan when it's not cool to do so. I'm not a fan of that article of course - seriously, I'm way cooler than any iPhone or Android fanboy I know, but the article is a great example that there's continued hope for RIM in the mobile space. Matt is a cross-platform guy, and has his pick of phones and tablets from every platform. And right now, BlackBerry is the one he's becoming a fan of:

I enjoy Android, but grow tired of low battery life, constant app updates, and all the different user experiences. iOS devices are great, but I am not a huge fan of the current application-focused UI... The funny thing is that I am now becoming a RIM BlackBerry fan - at a time when people seem to be writing off the company and device as past their prime. Let me explain why.

You'll want to jump over and read Matt's full post, but the short answer is that when it comes to a no-compromise mobile experience, in a world where people own both phones and tablets, the combination of BlackBerry Bold 9930 and BlackBerry PlayBook is a killer one. Welcome to the BlackBerry Fan Club Matt!

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ShortcutMe is all set for OS 7 - 20% off today only!

So you’ve picked up your new BlackBerry running OS 7 and you’re looking through the CrackBerry AppStore to see which apps you can install. ShortcutMe is one of the most popular shortcut creating applications available. As I’ve said many times before, it increases the number of functions available on your convenience key. No more are you limited to one application; now you have multiple applications and can make use of macros to take shortcuts even further. You can set it to go to a favourite mobile site, and paste information in a text box from your clipboard (just an example). Sam, from Fonware, let us know that the most recent version of ShortcutMe, version 5.7 is OS 7 ready. The application now runs the Bold 9900/9930 and Torch 9810. Support for the Torch 9850 and 9860 will follow soon.

New in 5.7:

  • Added NFC_Toggle function. (all other toggle features are intact and functional, but thanks to macros in ShortcutMe you can always make your own toggle functions or correct them if they are toggling the wrong item)
  • Added GetTime macro GetTime returns device clock. It can be used to control the flow in your macros based on time of the day.
  • Keypad Stroke Launching You can now launch your shortcuts just by moving finger on the virtual keypad, a very quick and convenient way of launching shortcuts.
  • Swipe to Switch You can now swipe your finger (top of the BB screen) toward left to switch between ShortcutMe views (Main menu, Direct launch, Stroke View, MultiClick View).
  • Swipe to Edit You can now swipe your finger (on a shortcut) towards right to open Edit page for that shortcut.
  • Launch shortcuts by multiple clicking a media key A shortcut in ShortcutMe 5.7 can be launched directly by multiple clicking a media key if you have MediaKeyBooster app.
  • True One Click Shortcut Launch A shortcut in ShortcutMe 5.7 can be launched directly by entering a hot key on BB Home Screen if you have MyOwnIcons application.
  • Auto virtual keypad hide when 99xx keypad is used.

For Today only, ShortcutMe is available for 20% off the regular price of $4.99. You can pick up ShortcutMe from the CrackBerry App Store.

More information/download ShortcutMe for BlackBerry smartphones

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Quick Review: Case-Mate Barely There for BlackBerry Curve 8500 and 9300 series

Leave a comment on this post to win a Case-Mate Barely There case for your device!

Picking out the right case for your device always seems to be a struggle, there are so many options, and each of them have their very own advantages and disadvantages. Let's take a quick look at the Case-Mate Barely There Case for the BlackBerry Curve 8500 and 9300 series devices which is a slim, low profile case that fits the device very snug. If you are looking for maximum protection, this isn't the one for you, but if you want something to keep the device from being scratched and to give the device a great feel in your hands, your money is well spent on this case. Check out the video above for some more thoughts on the case, and to see the fit on the device.

Contest: To win a Case-Mate Barely There case for your device, just leave a single comment on this post. Contest ends this Sunday at midnight PST. 

More information / purchase of Case-Mate Barely There for BlackBerry Curve 8500 / 9300

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Carrier Shootout: Web browsing speed test between BlackBerry Bold 9900 running on AT&T and Verizon BlackBerry Bold 9930!

[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

More than a few people have emailed in asking for us to do a carrier speed comparison between the BlackBerry Bold 9900 running on AT&T and BlackBerry Bold 9930 running on Verizon. Since I have both in my arsenal at the moment, I figured, why not? As you can see I have pretty much full signal on both devices (Verizon was down a bar-ish) and turned Wifi off on both. So I'm running purely on the networks. The browser history, cache and all that stuff was cleared so it was a clean slate on both. I personally don't think there is too much of a difference between the two (or not enough to matter in the long run at least) but you be the judge.

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CrackBerry GooseChase - Wrap up, Best Photos and Winners Announcement!

[ youtube link for mobile viewing ]

The very first CrackBerry GooseChase wrapped up Sunday night, and after review of all the submissions and some complicated computations, we have determined the winners, which you can check out below! BIG congrats to everyone taking home a prize (we'll be following up soon via email) and HUGE PROPS to everyone that entered and did such an amazing job. The quality and creativity of the photos was inspiring - it's so great to see SO MUCH LOVE out there for BlackBerry. 

You can check out some of the best submissions in the video above, or on the CrackBerry GooseChase Flikr acount. Descriptions of all the missions are after the break which will put the photos into perspective.

The GooseChase team sends a big thank you to everyone that participated. The level of effort and creativity was mind-boggling and we all had a lot of fun throughout the week. They also want you all to know they appreciate your patience while the bugs and kinks were worked out. Unexpected issues are one of the many fun things with products in their early stages, so your patience while they got a few fixes in was much appreciated. If you've enjoyed GooseChase throughout the week, remember GooseChase if your company is doing a team building event! Instead having to skip work to compete, you can get paid to play. Visit GooseCha.se for more info.

Congrats again to all the winners and participants. This was simply an awesome community building event. 

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