BlackBerry News and Reviews

Android App Player for the BlackBerry PlayBook leaked

If you're interested in poking around a system that may or may not work then you'll be pleased to know that the Android app player for the BlackBerry PlayBook has now leaked -- directly off of RIM's servers. It appears someone carelessly left the URL to the file in the latest beta build of BlackBerry Desktop Manager. You'll need to sideload it in order to get it installed and again, it may -- or may not work. Grab the file while it's hot, we got a feeling it won't last.

Download the leaked Android app player for the BlackBerry PlayBook

Source: N4BB

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BlackBerry Tablet Cryptographic Kernel receives FIPS certification

The BlackBerry PlayBook has just become the first tablet to be approved under FIPS for use within the U.S. federal government. While the FIPS certification may not mean a whole lot to end users off hand, as it stands right now -- the approval of certification for the BlackBerry PlayBook OS is a pretty big thing to have happen. Many folks have speculated that one reason for the delays of native email and PIM on the PlayBook was due to the lack of FIPS certification. While that may or may not be true, we'll soon find out find out if the certification will help move these updates along. As Isaac highlighted:

FIPS - Federal Information Processing Standard - this is the cryptographic gold standard for the US government and is the required standard for many government agencies on their computers and handheld devices. The FIPS 140-2 certification is issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.  A FIPS 140-2  certificate applies to an exact module name, hardware, software, firmware and/or applet version.  Translation: if RIM needs to 'tweek' something on this device it will need to be re-certified by NIST to maintain the 140-2. 

Now that Government has deemed the PlayBook OS secure, it meets RIM's standard policy on security as well and we all know how much Mike Lazaridis likes to ensure folks that BlackBerry devices are secure. Either way, the approval is a good thing that will hopefully trigger some reaction from RIM to push out some new features for the BlackBerry PlayBook.

Discuss in the CrackBerry Forums

Source: NIST

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CrackBerry Tip: Use the BlackBerry PlayBook Travel Charger to charge your BlackBerry Smartphone TWICE as FAST!

Contest: Leave a comment to this blog post for your chance to win a BlackBerry PlayBook Travel Charger!

One of the great things Research In Motion doesn't get enough credit for is their adherance to standards, and specifically as it relates to this post, I'm talking their sticking to MicroUSB for syncing and charging of both BlackBerry Smartphones and Tablets. Companies like Apple use their own proprietary connector, which screws you for anything beyond Apple products, and in Android land while most phones use MicroUSB, when it comes to tablets from the same company you're most likely to see proprietary connectors for charging. In other words, in the Android universe you can't use your tablet's charger on your phone.

One of the things I've mentioned in passing in a few previous posts but never dedicated a full post to it, is the fact your can use the BlackBerry PlayBook Travel Charger (the one that comes with the PlayBook) to charge not only your PlayBook, but also your BlackBerry Smartphone (assuming it's a MicroUSB era device). And not only does the PlayBook's travel charger charge your BlackBerry Smartphone, it charges it pretty much TWICE as fast thanks to the higher amperage. Around home I have plenty of chargers kick around so sometimes forget about this awesomeness, but last week when I was out on the road I was reminded once again. During the night I'd leave my PlayBook plugged in to let it charge up, and then in the morning while I would shower, shave and the other S, I'd plug in my phone which in just a short time was recharged with enough juice to power through the day. Beyond BlackBerry phones, I've found the PlayBook's travel charger to work awesome on other non-BB microUSB devices I have kicking around too.

I have yet to see any sort of issue ever arise from using the PlayBook's travel charger on non-PlayBook MicroUSB devices, so until I'm told or hear otherwise, my CrackBerry Tip of the Day is that if you're looking for a rapid charger for your BlackBerry Smartphone, don't just think regular BlackBerry phone charger... think BlackBerry PlayBook Travel charger. 

Comments & Contest: If you have any feedback supplmenting my own observations, be sure to toss them in the comments, or if you just want to win a PlayBook Travel charger, leave a comment too and we'll give you a chance to win one. Contest ends this Sunday at Midnight PT.

PlayBook Travel Charger  Other Chargers

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The RIMPIRE Strikes Back at Mercedes Benz Miami Fashion Week Swim!

Michelle has been doing a great job on our weekly Celebrity BlackBerry Sighting Round Ups, but when Miami-based fashion blog sent us in this photo taken this past weekend I just had to post it up. Seriously, bikinis + blackberrys.... how could I not post it?!

The photo was captured at the Mercedes Benz Miami Fashion Week Swim event, at the Mara Hoffman show. Gotta love dueling BlackBerrys in the front row capturing the models walking down the runway. Definitely a RIMPIRE Strikes Back kind of moment. Now if only we can get some RIMPIRE bikinis made up, they'll be a nice compliment to the RIMPIRE t-shirts. Click the photo to see a bigger version. Enjoy!


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InstaPhoto now available for BlackBerry Smartphones - 25 copies up for grabs

The popular image filtering app InstaPhoto for the BlackBerry PlayBook has now been ported for phones as well. InstaPhoto lets you snap a photo or choose an existing image, then apply various filters to give it a special, custom look. Choose from tons of filters like Burnout, Cool Breeze, SLR, Torn and many more. The images are saved to a custom folder on your device so you'll never lose track of them, and you can easily upload to Facebook and Twitter to share them with your friends. Instaphoto is available for $2.99 in BlackBerry App World, however if you've already purchased the app for your PlayBook you can download from App World to your phone at no extra cost!

Contest:  We have 25 copies of InstaPhoto up for grabs (the phone version only!!). To enter to win, just leave a single comment on this post. Contest ends this Sunday at midnight. 

More information/download of InstaPhoto

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Contest: Win 1 of 5 3-month Slacker Premium Radio subscriptions

Like Slacker Radio? So do we. While slacker offers their basic free version to everyone, there is nothing like having on-demand access to Slacker’s whole music library in addition to ad-free customizable radio. Not forgetting the many other great features Slacker offers:

  • Search and listen to specific songs or albums
  • Cache radio stations, albums and playlists to your smartphone so you can listen without a connection (better battery life, no data usage and uninterrupted playback)
  • Create playlists by typing in songs or by adding them while you listen to Slacker Radio stations and even share them with others.
  • View and listen to real-time "top 50" charts for all Slacker genres based on listener and Slacker DJ interaction
  • Listen to an artist-specific station that will only play songs from a specific artist or band (i.e. Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix etc..)
The Slacker Premium Radio service does cost $9.99/mnth but -- we like you guys and luckily, Slacker likes us. That said; they've given us 5 3-month subscriptions to give away to some lucky readers. Drop a comment on this post, we'll pick 5 of you all at a later time as winners. In the meantime, check out the Slacker website to download their free version.

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BlackBerry Smart Card reader receives FIPS approval

OK time to get your enterprise propeller hat on, the BlackBerry Smart Card reader has now been given FIPS 140-2 approval.  If you know what that means, you're excited at this good news and can now scroll down and click on the link to the NIST Computer Security Resource Center for more enterprise pr0n.  If you have no idea what a FIPS certification on a Smart Card reader is, I'll give you a quick snapshot without putting you to sleep.

We got a real world glimpse of the Smart Card reader in action just last week when Kevin posted the video inside the next generation police car powered by a BlackBerry PlayBook.  Essentially the Smart Card reader provides two-factor authentication to use your BlackBerry.  First factor presumably would be the device password and the second is your smart card inserted in the card reader and is witinh the 30-foot Bluetooth range of your BlackBerry smartphone.

That's really all it is.  This is a product that would be used by the extremely sensitive crowd who can't risk the content stored on a BlackBerry be compromised. Some may ask "Isn't the BlackBerry password good enough?  After 10 tries it wipes the device back to factory out-of-the-box doesn't it?"

Well yes it does, but if I put my device down it could be anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes before the lock enables itself.  If a police officer leaves this next generation police car in pursuit of a suspect and leaves the BlackBerry in the vehicle with the smart card reader in his pocket, the BlackBerry will lock up when the two pieces leave Bluetooth range. Keep reading for more.

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BlackBerry Bold 9930 gets caught sporting Verizon splash screen

While we talk non-stop about the upcoming BlackBerry Bold 9900, we seem to forget that it's CDMA counterpart the BlackBerry Bold 9930 is part of the package as well. Most of the news revolves around the Bold 9900 due to the bigger set of GSM carriers, but don't fret because those of you on CDMA won't be left in the dust. This image of the Bold 9930 surfaced and the device is showing off a Verizon splash screen. There really wasn't much doubt the device would hit Verizon at some point, but if you were worried then let this ease your mind. Unfortunately the hardware itself doesn't look to be branded, but it's still a step in the right direction. Thanks tenyrnote!

Source: N4BB

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SaskTel confirms they will be carrying the BlackBerry Bold 9900, leaves out release date

The list of carriers confirming they'll be carrying the BlackBerry Bold 99xx series continues to grow. This time around, SaskTel has confirmed they'll be making the device available to their customers in the near future. This of course, jives with the release of the BlackBerry Bold 9900 on Bell considering they share most of the same device line-up. We're still looking at that August release date for Bell and have not been given any reason to think otherwise as of yet so the SaskTel version should arrive around the same time. Odd, how many will conform the inevitable release yet we're still waiting.

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A closer look at the development of Scrapbook for the BlackBerry PlayBook

Our friends over at the BlackBerry Blog posted a guest piece today from Dan and Minna from the RIM TAT (The Astonishing Tribe) team in Sweden. This is the team that worked on the Scrapbook application for the BlackBerry PlayBook, and they give you a little peek into what all went into developing this cool little app. As with some of the other applications we saw back at Mobile World Conference, Scrapbook was originally just a demo, used to showcase just what the BlackBerry PlayBook would be capable of.

Our intention was to create a fun, comprehensive and visually impressive demo that communicates the power and potential of the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. As for all demos at large events, we looked for something that could be explained and demonstrated with an impact in less than a minute. The demo was a hit at MWC and many people who saw the demo wanted to see it become a real application for the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. Scrapbook was then handed over to a skilled app team within the Research In Motion TAT team, which faced the task of turning it into the real application that many of you enjoy today.

It's an interesting read with some neat pictures of early planning stages, and you can check it all out at the link below. I was especially happy to hear that they have more updates planned as well! Scrapbook was recently updated to v1.1, which brought with it a few new features such as new themes and sharing to Facebook from within the app. If you don't already have this app installed you can grab it from App World at the link below.

To read the full blog post from Inside BlackBerry
To download Scrapbook from BlackBerry App World

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PlayBook OS v1.0.7.2670 now available for download!

It seems like just yesterday we were all waiting anxiously for the PlayBook OS update to v1.0.7.2650… oh wait, it was yesterday.

And then the update was pulled due to issues users were having with BlackBerry Bridge, and a lot of people were left unable to update. RIM announced on Twitter that they were expecting to release an update "later this week" which left a lot of people wary, thinking that they wouldn't see this update any time soon. Well, the wait is over, and OS v1.0.7.2670 is now available! Grab your PlayBook, and get to downloading.

Discuss this PlayBook OS Update in the forums

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Argentina to start manufacturing BlackBerry smartphones October 2011

It looks like Malaysia isn't the only new country that will be producing BlackBerry smartphones. It was just announced that RIM has chosen Brightstar Corporation to manufacture new devices in Argentina. Based in Tierra del Fuego, Brightstar Corporation expects to begin production in October 2011 with shipments heading out later that same month. This is, of course, in addition to the other locations that already produce RIM devices.

Tierra del Fuego is no stranger to cell phone production. Samsung, Nokia, LG, Motorola, Sony Ericsson, Alcatel, and ZTE all have cell phone production facilities here, and Hewlett-Packard recently announced they will be manufacturing laptops there as well. Over 5 million cell phones were manufactured in Tierra del Fuego in 2010 and government forecasts suggest 8 million will be assembled and shipped this year.

Source: Brightstar

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Pandas vs Ninjas by XIMAD - A hot new alternative to Angry Birds!

You won't even miss those birds and pigs, we've got Pandas vs Ninjas! The pandas need to defend their home land from the ninja invaders, destroying their camps and taking back what's theirs. Will you help the Pandas win the war?

XIMAD has brought their popular WP7/Android game to BlackBerry, and it is just what you want it to be. Multiple levels, each with a different style, as well as pandas with different abilities, ensure that gameplay is entertaining and challenging. The graphics are sharp and detailed, the game plays without lag (tested on my Bold 9700), and there are plenty of levels to keep you happy for quite some time.

Pandas vs Ninjas is available for $2.99 and is compatible with BlackBerry smartphones on OS 5.0 and higher. Hopefully XIMAD will port this game for the BlackBerry PlayBook too!

For more information/screenshots and to purchase Pandas vs Ninjas

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Mielophone - an open source, music streaming app for your PlayBook

If I’m sitting at my desk at my office, or at home, my PlayBook can be found nearby with playing music. (if not found in my hands). Music helps me be productive and drowns out the background noise that may distract me. Now on the PlayBook, there are a good number of options for streaming music. One of the more recent ones is Mielophone. It’s a minimalistic search application which streams music you request. It’s said to tap into numerous sources in order to deliver results and uses SoundCloud to search. There isn’t much to the app, which is both good and bad. Basically, you can search by Artist, Album or Song. Searching by Artist gives you a short bio and their discography.

Now while Mielophone makes it easy to access songs, the results may not be the ones you are looking for. Just as many have experienced when searching for music online, you will come across a vast number of covers and remixes. If you search by song, the chances of finding the original track (even if it says original) are slim. With a few of the artists I searched for, things looked promising. I found their discography and correct song titles. However, each and every single song was the incorrect one. The developer did explain how to get more music in our own forums.

Mielophone is currently in version 1.0.1 and has a lot of potential to be an incredibly powerful application. The music began playing within 3 to 5 seconds of selection while the audio quality actually depends on the file. Above and beyond the incorrect listings (and lack of original versions), a few features that would add more functionality would include managing a favourites list and the option to search by genre. If you want to check out Mielophone, you can get it for free from BlackBerry App World.

More informartion/download Mielophone for the BlackBerry PlayBook

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Staples giving $100 off select tablets, PlayBook included

Whether you have been waiting to gather all the funding, hoping for a sale or in the market for a second BlackBerry PlayBook, Staples has made a deal that is a bit difficult to resist. Currently Staples has a coupon that lasts until the end of this month that will drop the price of select tablets $100 and unlike the Kindle or HP Touchpad, the PlayBook is not excluded from the deal. That means you -- yes you -- can print the coupon out, go to your local Staples and grab a brand new BlackBerry PlayBook for $100 less than what you originally intended on paying! The deal is only valid until July 30th and unfortunately only applies to US based stores, but it is definitely not something you want to miss out on. Have you picked one up on this coupon or plan to in the coming days? Be sure to let us know about it in the forums. Thanks to everyone that sent this in!

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Add voice notes to your task and calendar entries with iVoiceNote for BlackBerry smartphones


This week I'm travelling to Illinois for some corporate training which just happens to be the home of our very own Kerri Neill. As you can imagine I'm always thinking of last minute items to pick up or pack. Only problem is its usually while walking on a busy Manhattan street. Rather than risk serious bodily harm stopping in the middle of foot traffic to jot down a quick reminder by typing the whole thing out, I thought about using voice notes. Wouldn't it be nice if you could record a message and add it to your tasks or calendar application? That way when the reminder pops-up up all you'd have to do is listen? Now you can with iVoiceNote by iDong. Keep reading for more details and screenshots.

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From the Forums: Fantasy Football, custom cases, tech wishes, and a member PlayBook video

We had an interesting start to the week, with the PlayBook OS update not going exactly as most had planned. However, there are plenty of other interesting things up this week, like the contest to send a lucky developer to represent CrackBerry at the upcoming Hackathon! It you have already checked out the latest news and rumors in the blogs 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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Iconify updated to version - 50 copies to be won!!


Even before we had OS 6, Iconify was bringing some OS 6 functionality to BlackBerry. Through Iconify, links to files, contacts, composing messages, web links and more were made readily available from your home screen. Users are able to decide what image to use and also the naming and command confirmation options. When it comes to contacts, links can easily handle multiple phone numbers or email addresses through the IconifyMail Link and IconifyDialLink features. Recently, Matthias let us know of a recent update that was made to Iconify. One of the major updates include the option to decide if a Global Menu item should be created for each IconifyLink (items readily available by simply pressing the menu button). The 50 link version of Iconify is currently on sale for $1.99 and the 15 link version is on sale for only $0.99. You can pick up either version of Iconify from the CrackBerry App Store. Check out the updates:

What's new:

  • Create an Iconify ApplicationLink to any existing installed application on your BlackBerry Device.

    - Specify a custom image for the Application or use the default Application Icon. Please note, that most of the Core BlackBerry Applications (like Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Clock, etc.) does not come with own Application Icons - most of these "Core"-Apps gets their Icon from the current active Theme. Unfortunately there is no access (for a 3'rd party application) to these Theme icons - so you need to specify a own image.

    - Specify an custom name or use the default generated (depending on your settings the default application name.

    Creating ApplicationLinks can be done via the Iconify-Options in the Edit IconifyLinks section. There you will find a Menu Item called 'Add IconifyApplicationLink' which will open a Application-Chooser. Please note that you can filter the list and hide the System (Core) Applications. This makes it much easier to find your individual installed 3'rd Party Applications. Please Note, that not all listed System Apps can be actually launched - some of them require additional parameters & configurations that are only known by RIM.

  • For all Iconify Links you have the option to include the link in the global BlackBerry Menu - this will make the Link available always (in any application) via the BlackBerry Menu.
  • Additionally to be able to include each Link in the Menu you have to option to specify a HomeScreen Hotkey for your link - so you can launch the link directly from the HomeScreen by a single click on your BlacBerry keyboard (not available for Storm & Strom2 - sorry). Please note that this functionality have some restrictions:

    - For OS6 you have to activate the 'Application Shortcuts' (this can be done in the Home Screen Preferences - Launch by Typing)

    - For other OS (except Storm/Storm2) you have to disable the the 'Dial from Home Screen' Option in the Phone Options

    - Some of the chars are already in use by the core BlackBerry applications (like 'O' (for Options) or 'M' (for Messages)) - so the number of available HomeScreen hotkeys is limited and you can't assign a hotkey for all of your Iconify links'.

  • Support for new BlackBerry Devices 9900 & 9850
  • Contact Pager-Number can be used

Contest: We have 50 copies of the Iconify 50 Link version to give away! All you have to do is leave a comment on this post to be entered. Contest ends this Sunday at midnight PST.

More information/download the 15 Link version of Iconify for BlackBerry Smartphones
More information/download the 50 Link version of Iconify for BlackBerry Smartphones

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BlackBerry PlayBook Sr. Product Manager Leaves RIM; Now Director of Product Marketing for Samsung

Wow. Another RIM employee has left for Samsung.  Just a month after Brian Wallace, the VP of Digital Marketing and Media for RIM, left for Samsung, another well-known RIM employee is packing up and leaving Waterloo for Dallas, Texas. Note, this addition comes less than two weeks after Samsung chief product and technology officer Omar Khan left for a job with Citigroup, so it seems things be changing like crazy here.

Ryan Bidan, formerly a Senior Product Manager on the BlackBerry PlayBook team, posted on his Twitter and LinkedIn today that he's now going to be working for Samsung Telecommunications USA as a Director of Product Marketing. Ryan Bidan was well known here on CrackBerry as he was one of the company's best personalities in dealing with the media. He first hit the CrackBerry blogs when he showed us the BlackBerry Presenter at CES 2010, and then from there he moved onto the PlayBook team where he made the rounds in the media (remember my first hands-on of the PlayBook?), including being on an episode of the Engadget show. Heck, there's even a thread in the CrackBerry forums calling for Ryan Bidan to be Research In Motion's new CEO

We've tweeted out to Ryan for feedback, and Phil is waiting for word back from Samsung on this movement. Let's hope this isn't a trend.. if Samsung keeps poaching RIM talent CrackBerry Kevin may have to do a Hulk Smash.

Sad to see you leave RIM Ryan... I hope Samsung bloggers appreciate the Bidan smirk as much as I always did (he pulls out the trademarked smirk everytime you ask him a question he's not allowed to answer).

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BlackBerry PlayBook OS Update v. no longer available

After all that waiting, Research In Motion has now pulled the latest BlackBerry PlayBook OS update due to amounting concerns from users who have had issues with BlackBerry Bridge after having updated. The CrackBerry forums filled up rather quickly with this issue and while there is some workarounds to correct the issue, RIM still felt it best to remove the update. As announced on the @BlackBerry Twitter account:

Some users were experiencing issues with Bridge & 1.0.7. We expect to release an update with a fix later this week

If you're experiencing issues, then by all means -- hit up the forums and see how you might be able to get things working correctly.

Discuss this PlayBook OS update in the CrackBerry forums

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