BlackBerry News and Reviews

Rumor: Microsoft to buy Skype for $7 Billion

If you all thought Steve Ballmer showing up during the keynote at BlackBerry World was a little crazy, maybe -- just maybe, there was a little bit more to it then we all realized at the time. No, Microsoft hasn't announced they're making a bid to purchase Research In Motion but -- they have however, according to some rumors floating around made a bid to purchase Skype for $7 billion.

As we know it right now, Skype has really never had much of an impact on the BlackBerry world considering their app is a Verizon exclusive and despite having announced it in the past as being made available for all, that has never actually come to light. If these rumors turn out to be true and the deal gets locked down, it could break the Verizon exclusivity and hopefully bring Skype to not only BlackBerry smartphones but to the BlackBerry PlayBook as well. We'll have to sit back and watch it all unfold but, fun to ponder the ideas while we wait that's for sure.

Update: Looks like it is a done deal, as reported by All Things D. Press release suggested for tomorrow morning.

Source: WSJ; via Android Central

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BlackBerry Bold 9700 and 9780 get an official update to OS 6.0.0.546 from Taiwan Mobile!

Taiwan Mobile has released OS 6.0.0.546 for BlackBerry Bold 9700 and 9780 owners bringing them up to par with the BlackBerry Torch 9800, which recieved the same update last week from Vodafone DE. This isn't a huge jump for either as the 9780 was previously sitting at .534 and the 9700 at .526 but an update is an update. We're interested in knowing how it performs for you, so if you choose to install it let us know in the comments or in the forums at the links below what changes you see. Thanks rroyy!

Download 6.0.0.546 for the BlackBerry Bold 9700
Discuss 6.0.0.546 for the 9700

Download 6.0.0.546 for the BlackBerry Bold 9780
Discuss 6.0.0.546 for the 9780

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BlackBerry Tablet OS Native Developer Kit webinar taking place May 12

While at BlackBerry World we heard plenty of talk about the upcoming BlackBerry Tablet OS Native Developer Kit but now that BlackBerry World is all said and done with, anyone who was not able to attend is being invited to a webinar  to get up to date on all the latest NDK news and information. The details are as follows:

Date: Thursday, May 12, 2011
Time: 2:00 PM EST / 11:00 AM PST
Duration: 1 hour

Summary:
Join this webcast for two reasons! All registrants will receive news and updates on the BlackBerry Tablet OS NDK. And, we want to provide an opportunity for those that cannot attend BlackBerry World (May 3-5, 2011) to interact directly with our product manager who will cover the following topics:

  • Features and benefits
  • Application development
  • Performance and testing
  • Live Q&A with experts from Research In Motion Limited

Presenters: Patrick Mollins, Product Manager, Research In Motion Limited

If you're a developer looking to learn more about the BlackBerry Tablet OS Native Developer Kit and how to make it work for you, when released -- you can sign up today and tune into the webinar on May 12.

Register for the BlackBerry Tablet OS Native Developer Kit webinar

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BlackBerry PlayBook Native Email and PIM Running via BlackBerry OS Emulation?!! Makes hybrid QNX/BB OS plausible on new phones?

Thought Piece: Connecting the dots after BlackBerry World 2011...

[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

With BlackBerry World 2011 now behind us, it's time to reflect upon all the news and things we saw. One of demos that really blew me away was of native email and PIM running on a BlackBerry PlayBook. Yes, we knew RIM said it was coming, but I was SHOCKED to actually see it in action. At first I honestly thought RIM was faking it. For the life of me I couldn't believe that RIM had already finished re-writing the email and PIM apps for QNX so they run natively on the PlayBook. Remember, these aren't just any old apps. These apps have to talk directly to RIM's Network Operation Center which means they have to be ROCK SOLID, just like native email and PIM on BlackBerry Smartphones today. We're talking secure and battle tested. These aren't just apps for RIM to quickly pump out and push live. Their reputation in business and enterprise rests on them.

Watching the video above I couldn't help but think how similar the native email and PIM experience on the BlackBerry PlayBook looked to that on a BlackBerry Smartphone. Then I had an ephinany. It looks like the same experience BECAUSE IT IS THE SAME EXPERIENCE. Instead of re-writing native email and PIM for the BlackBerry PlayBook, RIM is going to run the traditional BlackBerry OS on top of QNX via an emulator to power the native email and PIM experience. To the user the actual email and PIM apps will look good and feel 100% native and the performance should be totally fine as we see in the video, but in reality it'll actually be the traditional BlackBerry OS running behind the scenes to deliver this experience (as pointed out in the comments, jump to 1m11s in the video to see the BB6 styled radio off indicator in the app). You won't see the BBOS, but it'll be there. At least for now.

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How to upload a video directly to YouTube from your BlackBerry PlayBook

 

If you're a BlackBerry PlayBook owner, you've no doubt realized by now how great the video camera on the device really is. Videos taken with the BlackBerry PlayBook turn out great, especially when you have the ideal conditions in place.

While Research In Motion spent a lot of time integrating YouTube directly into the BlackBerry PlayBook for viewing videos, one thing they seemingly left out from the PlayBook YouTube client was a means of uploading videos directly to YouTube from the PlayBook.

That of course, doesn't mean uploading videos taken with your BlackBerry PlayBook is out of the question though. in fact, it's rather easy to do -- once you know the basics of what it is you are supposed to be doing in order to offload those videos. Read on past the break for a full run down of how to upload videos taken on your PlayBook directly to YouTube.

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Cut the Cable game for BlackBerry

If you have ever tried the popular Cut the Rope game in iOS devices and hoped for some of the same on BlackBerry, Cut the Cable is your answer. The strategy game is both simple and super addicting at the same time. You need to cut the cables attached to the candy in order to get it into the green monsters mouth. Sounds simple enough right? It's actually quite challenging as the levels go on, but if you're like me you'll find yourself stuck to it for quite a while. As you progress the levels get harder and additional items like bubbles and special anchors are introduced. Cut the Cable is available for most devices in the CrackBerry App store.

More information/download of Cut the Cable

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BlackBerry PlayBook Wallpapers and Sizing Explained

How to Properly Size Custom Wallpapers for the BlackBerry PlayBook

One of the slightly confusing things about the BlackBerry PlayBook is the way it displays wallpapers on the homescreen. Knowing that the landscape resolution of the PlayBook is 1024 pixels wide by 600 pixels tall, you'd think a 1024 x 600 wallpaper would display perfectly on the device in landscape and get scaled down in portait to fit the width (and show bars above/below), but  currently that's not the case. Instead, right now if you set a 1024x600 sized image to be the homescreen wallpaper, you'll find the image you get on the homescreen in landscape is sort of zoomed in and cut off, as if it's been scaled up. That's because it has been scaled up. Keep reading for the explanation and how to.

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How Do You Use Your BlackBerry - How do you communicate with your non-BlackBerry contacts?

How do you communicate with your non BlackBerry contacts?online survey  

When it comes to communicating with people a BlackBerry can't be beat. Email, BBM, SMS, IM - it's all there. The method of choice from BlackBerry to BlackBerry is obviously BBM, but what about those contacts who don't own a BlackBerry? You have many options to stay in touch, but what is your method of choice? Do you use SMS? Email? IM? A cross-platform messenger? Cast your vote in the poll above and let us know how to communicate with those people that aren't BlackBerry users, then leave a comment letting us know why what you do works best. Thanks rrrebo!

Have a question you want to know the answer to when it comes to BlackBerry use? Let us know in the forums!

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Paul Trani comments on BlackBerry PlayBook and more

[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

As Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 was released only a little under a month ago, it is only natural for Adobe to start touring around the world showing us wonderers what the future with professional tools from Adobe could look like. Dubbed "Adobe CS5 Creativity Evolved", Adobe Certified Experts Paul Trani and Terry White take over the digitally-dependent world among other Adobe experts to demonstrate and discuss the tremendous library of functions contained within Adobe's freshly released software package.

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BlackBerry Touch 9860 gets another up close photo

It's been a bit since we've seen new photos of the not yet announced BlackBerry Touch 9860, but in a quick shot today we have two from the forums. Here we get a much closer look at the physical buttons on the front of the 9860. It looks like a bit a break from the "normal" flat buttons we've had on recent devices. Also noted is that the red and green Send/End buttons are gone much like that of the Bold 9900/9930 (with which these photos were actually taken). Pretty cool stuff here and hopefully we'll hear more on this bad boy soon. Hit the forums for more!

Discuss more in the forums

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Optique Theme by TDM Designs - On sale for a limited time

I like options & variety, especially on my BlackBerry. I switch my themes and wallpapers almost daily (yes, it's a sad addiction I know). I stumbled across the Optique Theme by TDM Designs in the forums the other day and was immediately intrigued by the variety of ways I could customize the theme. The icons are clean & crisp and the banner colors are opaque enough to still see your background with just a hint of color to compliment it.

When you purchase the theme you are given the option to choose one of the following: OS 6 icons or the OS 6.1 icons. Once you install the theme your customization can begin.

  • You can select 1 of 5 different banner colors (black, blue, green, red & pink) by pressing alt then # (ESCAPE key hides it)
  • Show the Today screen (which also shows your SMS & Messages folders) by pressing the X key (hide by pressing the Z key)
  • Show the side dock by pressing alt then the W key (hide by pressing alt then the E key)
  • Shortcut keys to your clock (c), camera (q), weather (space bar), connections (@) & SMS messages ($)

*With a touchscreen device some of the keys are a bit different.

  • Tap date to hide/show weather icon (Icon in banner)
  • Tap battery meter to show/hide Color Switcher
  • Tap Notification area to show Today screen (ESCAPE key hides today)
  • Tap Application name (left side above bottom banner) to show side dock (ESCAPE key hides side dock)
  • Click time to open clock

This theme is available for the following devices and is both OS 5 & OS 6 compatible:
Bold 9650, Bold 9700, Bold 9780, Curve 8900, Curve 8910, Curve 8930, Curve 8980, Pearl 9100 3G, Pearl 9105 3G, Storm 9500, Storm 9530/9530T, Storm2 9550/9520, Style 9670, Torch 9800, Tour 9630

I wish the standard background that came with the theme was the gorgeous tree one that is shown in the pics but it isn't. The theme comes with a rust colored swirled background instead. That being said, TDM Designs were gracious enough to post the tree background in the Theme forum posts for the Optique theme which I took the liberty of posting here along with this article just to make it easier for those who may ask for it.

The theme is usually sold for $3.99 but is on sale for a limited time for only $1.99!

More information and purchase of Optique theme

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CrackBerry Reminder: What you may have missed this week


Humans vs Aliens from Epic Applications - Both fun and addicting

New from Epic Applications is a very cool game, Humans vs Aliens. For some of you who play games on other mobile platforms, this game may seem a bit familiar to you, but is also quite different. The point of the game is just what the name would suggest, guiding your humans to protect the earth from the alien invaders. Throughout the game you will see a number of different obejects such as pitchfork armed farmers, army personel, and many more. The game is definitely a great time waster, and sure to provide hours of fun.

Overall, Humans vs Aliens is one of the best games I have seen on the BlackBerry platform. It's smooth graphics and freedom from lag make this one a great buy. It is available for the 8900, Storm, Tour, Bold, and Torch devices. You can pick it up at BlackBerry App World for $3.99.

Purchase Humans vs Aliens at BlackBerry App World

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BlackBerry App Roundup for May 6, 2011 - Win 1 of 100 copies of Mp3CutterPro!

We have 100 copies of Mp3CutterPro to give away! Keep reading to find out how to enter!

Welcome to this week's BlackBerry App Roundup! This week we have 100 copies of Mp3CutterPro by Berryset to give away! We have searched high and low and found some neat apps to share with you this week, so head on past the break to check them out and enter the contest! If you have an app you want to see featured in the roundup be sure to check the end of the post for information on submitting it to us.

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BlackBerry World 2011 Super Podcast and News Roundup!

BlackBerry World 2011 is now behind us and what a week it was. Adam, Bla1ze and I made it home from Orlando and we are exhausted. But before catching up on some Zzzz's we first recorded our BlackBerry World Super Duper Roundup Podcast which you can listen to here or download on your BlackBerry PlayBook or Smartphone via the Podcasts app. We want to see this episode be the most downloaded in the BB Podcasts app, so be sure to subscribe to us there and download. 

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CrackBerry Poll: Would you rather have a 7" BlackBerry PlayBook or 10" BlackBerry PlayBook?

  Would you rather have a 7" or 10" BlackBerry PlayBook?online survey

Since the BlackBerry PlayBook was first announced we have been adament that it wouldn't be too long before RIM would follow up with a 10" version of the device. Afterall, when it comes to their smartphones they have always provided plenty of form factor choice to consumers and this past philosophy on phones should transfer over to tablets as well. We've been hearing about a 10" PlayBook being in the works for a while now (oh yeah, and a 7" WHITE PlayBook is on the way too), and the 10" rumors are starting to really picking up now. This week BGR put word on their site about the 10" PlayBook being in the works and having confirmed it with their sources, and we even received an email this week of a 10" airplane PlayBook sighting that I personally believe to be true (I've spotted a lot of unreleased BB's on flights to and from Toronto over the years). Here's the word:

Today, On a flight from Dallas to Toronto I sat across the aisle from someone who had BOTH a 7" Blackberry playbook and what looked like a 10" Blackberry playbook as well. The 10" unit looked identical to the 7" unit and had the telltale vertical slotted speaker slits on the right and left side, forward facing camera (top middle) and some type of round sensor to the left of the camera sensor.

The larger unit had visibly better screen image quality than the 7"unit, significantly better contrast, brightness and viewing angle. I had a Xoom with me and it looked about the same size. I was able to see the menus/screens and it looked very similar to to the 7" screens. Additionally, the person who had this larger playbook was playing Need For Speed.

So with a 10" PlayBook in the works (I personally don't think it's a rumor at this point... it's happening), the question really becomes which size of PlayBook would you personally want to buy? I know in our BlackBerry PlayBook Review I was a little critical of the 7" form factor, feeling that it sacrificed the user experience for certain activities such as web browsing, but now that I've owned the PlayBook for a few weeks I have to say I've really fallen in love with the more portable 7" form factor and am more than happy with taking a few screen size tradeoffs in favor of a device I use way more often. I take my PlayBook with me everywhere!!

I know for some of our CrackBerry readers and myself the answer to this question is I'd buy BOTH... but really.. if you had to choose between 7" or 10", which would you go for? Cast your vote above and be sure to sound off in the comments with your reasoning. 

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Quick Review: ArtGO! Coloring for the BlackBerry PlayBook

[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

It seems as though each time I bring home a new gadget, my son appears to be just as eager to check it out. Try telling a 4 year old that the PlayBook is the “World’s First Professional Grade Tablet” and not a toy… especially when the name contains the word Play. Not to dissuade a future BlackBerry addict, I went looking for applications I could download for him. I remembered the kids applications from Zeebu Mobile Inc, such as MathGO! And SuperBabyGo! and their ability to entertain/educate children without giving them access to anything else on a BlackBerry. ArtGO Coloring is available for the PlayBook, if you’re brave enough to put the tablet into their little hands.

The application provides various backgrounds to choose from, as well as resizable animals to populate the background with. Virtual markers, pattern paints, crayons and an eraser stand at the ready; waiting to help your child’s imagination take shape. At times my Son would get frustrated with the lagging response time when scrolling through, and moving animals. The resizing option wouldn’t always work either. Nonetheless, he did enjoy painting a dog to look like a tiger (sorry, no Ligers available). There is no way that a child can draw outside of the lines with ArtGO Coloring. The PlayBook can also house a gallery of saved works of art for future bragging. Zeebu also included an option to share the image via Facebook. I’m hoping for a Twitter option at some point.

Now unlike the BlackBerry smartphone versions, your youngling can easily exit from the application and access any other program in your PlayBook. The next thing you know, they can be into the browser or your messages (if bridged). I’m pretty sure you’ll find enjoyment with colouring or drawing on your own, just make sure you at least pretend to work. You can pick up ArtGO Coloring for $3.99 from BlackBerry App World.

More information/download ArtGo! Coloring for the PlayBook
More applications from Zeebu Mobile

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Review: Rocket Storm for the BlackBerry PlayBook

[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

Rocket Storm is an addictively fun game available for the BlackBerry PlayBook. The name itself makes me think of some kind of cheesy band name. It is a defence-type game that places your “space station” (ie, little metal sphere) against an increasingly aggressive onslaught of inbound rockets; hence the name. The reason for the attack is unknown, but the objective is clear; fight rockets with rockets! When you launch missiles/rockets, you want to make sure the enemy rockets are caught within the blast radius. The more rockets you catch in a single blast, the better you score will be. The last line of defence is your stations shields. After 3 hits, they are down for the count – no chance to recharge. As you advance through the levels you are presented with different types of enemy rockets (faster rockets, zig-zagging rockets, etc), as to prevent the game play from getting stale.

There isn’t anyway of saving your progress, so each time you close and open the game, you start at “Wave 01”. Game play isn’t always the same. Sometimes when the game has been paused for a while (before the level starts), I find that all of the enemy rockets for that round are launched simultaneously. The graphics are smooth and decent and should satisfy anyone who has an affinity for making things go boom. Locations of the explosions are spot on with player selections, so there are not really any cheap deaths to be had.

"blow'd up good, blow'd up real good!"

You can grab Rocket Storm for free from BlackBerry App World

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Review: HellBent Top Pouch Case 9650 - Leave a comment to win one!

Leave a comment to win a HellBent case for your device! Keep reading for details.

For me nothing beats the feel of a BlackBerry device without a case or anything on it, but unfortunately I don't always enjoy carrying the device around with me like that. Having to insert and remove the device from my pocket constantly opens up a whole lot of potential for it to get scratched up, and become old looking (big fear of mine). Predicaments like this leave little room for possibilities of what to use, but luckily there are quite a few holsters that are available to provide protection while not in use, but allow the naked style feel of the device while it is in use. While looking around, deciding which of them to purchase the HellBent Top Pouch Case caught my attention for a few reasons, so I decided to give it a chance. Hit the break with me to check out this case with a little more detail.

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Geek Pro: Use QR codes to make the internet mobile

[ youtube link for mobile viewing ]

Sometimes, don't you want to take the Internet with you? But Joseph, you'll say, I can already do that. I have this little device; it's called a BlackBerry. Maybe you've heard of it? No, I'm talking about those times when you have to leave your computer. You're in the middle of (shameless plug) a really good article, and it's time to step away. Maybe it's lunchtime; maybe it's time for a visit to the smallest room (don't lie; you've thought about it). Yes you can read the article on your BlackBerry, but then you'd have to open the browser and go to the site. And then follow that one link. And then the other. And the other.

It would be great to just send that URL to your phone and pick up right where you left off, almost instantaneously. There's no app to install on your phone, you already have the necessary pieces. All you need to do is change that webpage address or link into a QR code.

There are a number of free resources to do this. At Kaywa, you can copy and paste the URL into the appropriate box and have the website generate a code for you. You could also install an extension to your ChromeFirefox, or Safari browser. With the extension, you'll be able to make that QR code with one click from right inside the browser. The extensions should also let you create a code for any link on that page as well.

Now that you have a QR code, what do you do with it? You open up App World.  App World has a powerful QR code-reading scanner built right in. In the app, press the menu key and select Scan a Barcode from the list. The scanner will read any QR code, it doesn't have to be one linking to App World. Hold your camera steady as the scanner zooms in on your code. In a moment, you'll be asked if you want to go to your website.

Find a web link. Make a QR Code. Scan it with App World. Done. Geek Pro!

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