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BlackBerry News and Reviews

Native email and apps coming to the BlackBerry PlayBook in 60 days

As you all know if you've been following the flurry of BlackBerry PlayBook news, the PlayBook will be arriving with no native email client nor do BlackBerry developers have an native SDK to create apps on. While the no native email client has been hotly debated among potential BlackBerry PlayBook owners -- it is something that RIM is working on; as is the native SDK for developers. When questioned in a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Jim Balsillie dropped the news surrounding the launch of native email.

“We will have, if you want, a standalone non-web, non-paired email client on it within the next, I believe it was 60 days scheduled.” He also said that the Android app player will be coming “sometime this summer.”

While I have some pretty strong feelings about the lack of native email at launch, I am quite pleased to know that it is a top priorority for RIM and understand the dynamics behind its delay. I'll not debate it in this post, given that pretty much every other tech blog out there has used it as a weapon to beat the BlackBerry PlayBook down even before it gets out the gates , let's just say RIM has their reasons for it not being there -- and the solution for it is not as easy as slapping an email client on board and calling it a day as some would like you to believe.

There isn't much security in that methodology and doing so would go against everything we've come to expect from RIM when it comes to secure email processes. In any event, a secure native email client is coming -- we just have to wait for it. Now, someone please help the horse up.

Source: WSJ

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BlackBerry App Roundup for April 15, 2011

Welcome to this week's BlackBerry App Roundup! 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. We have several app contests going on this week, so be to check them out and enter to win some cool stuff here.

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CrackBerry Podcast 067: BlackBerry PlayBook Review Super Special and More!

Ok CrackBerry Podcast listeners.... this is the BlackBerry PlayBook Review special you've been waiting for. For those not into the PlayBook, the good news is we start off with all of the phone rumor talk of the day, including discussion on the BlackBerry Bold Touch, BlackBerry Touch, Torch 2, Curve Touch (you get it... a whole lot of new phones!) and more. 

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Wakeful alarm app for BlackBerry now available - Get it for 50% off!

[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

A while back we first checked out the beta of Wakeful - a super cool alarm app for BlackBerry. Wakeful breaks the norm of buzzing, annoying alarms and wakes you up with a voice greeting. You will be greeted with your name, weather, news and stocks so you can start your day off right. Customize the alarm to your liking, and never wake up cranky again.

Wakeful had a successful beta (mostly thanks to CrackBerry readers) and is now officially available. It sells for $14.99 in the CrackBerry App Store. BUT - you can get it for 50% off using the code WAKEUP. Still a bit of a steep price, but if you use your BlackBerry as an alarm, you'll be thankful after a few days. Hit the link below for more. Please note - the coupon code will only work in our mobile app store or app store client.

More information/download of Wakeful

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Hulu running on the BlackBerry PlayBook browser

[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

One of the most asked questions thus far is if Hulu works on the BlackBerry PlayBook. The short answer is yes. While we haven't seen it yet, we'll change that right now. Kevin couldn't check it out (being in Canada) so I fired it up for a quick demo. The site itself loads well and everything shows up nicely. As you can see, there was a bit of a delay when loading the video, but after it gets started it runs super smooth. You can pop it into full screen and watch away - definitely very cool. Now you just need an HDMI cable to hook up to your TV (which unfortunately I don't have yet) and you can watch free TV until you pass out. So check out the quick video above then let us know what you think in the comments!

On a side note - I did try Netflix instant streaming as well, but unfortunately it says Our apologies - streaming is not supported for your operating system. Total drag, but it just means we realllly need to hope for a Netflix app. 

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Track your bowling stats on the go with Bowling Score Tracker 2 - 50 copies to be won!

If you are a BlackBerry user and an avid bowler, keeping track of your scores and stats on the go may not be the easiest thing you have experienced. The folks over at Coolfred Software hit us up to let us know that Bowling Score Tracker 2 is an easy way for all users to keep track of all their bowling stats in a simple, easy fashion. The application will allow users to enter their scores, and to keep track of their league stats as well. You can track multiple bowlers, view charts that show scores over various games, and comments and so much more, all from within the very simple interface of the application. After all the information has been entered it can be exported to a CSV which can then be imported to your favorite spreadsheet client. The application does run a price tag of $5.99, but if you are a bowler involved in different leagues, and looking for ways to keep track of your stats, this is a must have.

Contest: We have 50 copies to give away. Just leave a single comment on this post to enter. Contest ends this Sunday at midnight PDT. 

More information / download of Bowling Score Tracker 2

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How to Update the OS on the BlackBerry PlayBook

Video PlayBook 101: How to update the Operating System on the BlackBerry PlayBook

[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

While writing up our in-depth BlackBerry PlayBook Review I was on pre-release operating system software which meant I had to upgrade the OS a couple of times as updates were released. On a BlackBerry Smartphone that would make for a slightly long and annoying process, but on the BlackBerry PlayBook updates are absolutely dead simple. RIM has built in a simple and powerful over-the-air software update system into the QNX-based BlackBerry Tablet OS that everyone will appreciate. For a step by step set of instructions you check out our BlackBerry PlayBook Software Update How To, and to see the process in video you can check out the video above.

With a brand new device you may be walked through a software update while going through the initial device setup wizard, but once you're up and running you'll find software updates in the Settings > Software Updates screen. Simply tap the Check for Updates button, and if an update is available you can tap to download it. While the update is downloading, you still have full use of your BlackBerry PlayBook. Once downloaded, you'll have to stop what you're doing to go through the Install process, which takes a few minutes and a device reboot is required. Everything is really simple and really seamless. Kudos to RIM on their implementation of software updates on the BlackBerry. Loving it!

Read More BlackBerry PlayBook Help and How to Articles
Visit CrackBerry's BlackBerry PlayBook Help and Discussion Forum 

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Toss It! for BlackBerry now available - 50 copies up for grabs!

Toss It! is new game from Smarter Apps, makers of Angry Farm. The premise of the game is simple - toss a variety of objects at the intended targets and score points for hitting the target. Try to beat your previous best score, but don't forget to adjust for the crosswind as the object will curve based on the strength of the wind. There are four levels included: classic "paper toss" into a waste basket, kicking a football through uprights, sinking a ping-pong ball into a cup and basketball. Features include:

  • Four action-packed game levels (Paper Toss, Football Kick, Basketball Toss and Beer Pong)
  • Engaging special audio and video effects
  • Supports BlackBerry OS 4.6 devices and above
  • Free upgrades to all existing customers forever

Toss It! is available now for $1.99 in the CrackBerry App Store.

Contest: We have 50 copies of Toss It! to give away. Just leave a comment on this post to enter. Contest ends Sunday at midnight PST.

More information/download of Toss It!

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Gmail mobile site now in HTML5

I'll admit it. I'm an avid Gmail user, but I don't use the mobile site. There's too much clicking. And waiting. And clicking. It's entirely too much like the WAP sites of yesteryear, you remember. Back when SMS texting was the brand new thing. I don't use the mobile Gmail site. Until today. Today, I discovered the HTML5 version of Gmail on my OS6 BlackBerry.

The new version of the Gmail mobile site is like night and day compared to the old. The experience with the site is much like sitting at your home computer, though slimmed down and optimized for the BlackBerry experience. Buttons appear and disappear as needed. Menus follow you around the page. Emails looks like they belong in the page, no need to zoom in and scroll left and right.

I am impressed with the mobile site, impressed enough to use it much more often now.

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PrivacyStar for BlackBerry - Enter to win 1 of 5 free licenses!

For the second year in a row, PrivacyStar is sponsoring a car in the Pirelli World Challenge. Things are off to a good start, and to help celebrate, we have 5 PrivacyStar licenses (2 1-year subs and 3 6-month subs) to give away. If you haven't heard of the app, it makes it easy for you to block unwanted callers, telemarketers, 800 numbers and more from getting through to your BlackBerry. Users can login to the web portal and add or remove numbers from their blocked list. PrivacyStar is available in BlackBerry App World with a 7-day free trial.

Contest: To enter to win 1 of 5 licenses to PrivacyStar, just leave a single comment on this post. Contest ends this Sunday at midnight PDT. 

More info/download of PrivacyStar

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BlackBerry PlayBook Unboxing!

Unboxing of the BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet!

[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

Following up on Kevin's BlackBerry PlayBook Review, we have an unboxing of a BlackBerry PlayBook with retail packaging. This is the 16GB version, and aside from the markings on the box itself, it's safe to assume all versions will sport the same package design. Inside the box is obviously the PlayBook itself tucked in a neoprene sleeve (which I'm sure will get plenty of use). Included is a microUSB cable for connecting to a PC as well as the travel charger. Mixed in are a few booklets with warranty and safety info. Unfortunately no included microHDMI cable, but you can snag one at One thing to note is the power button on this unit does seem to be raised a bit (unlike Kevin's review unit) so no problems powering on or off from what I can tell - definitely a good thing. Now get to watching!

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Early Bird by - Email for your BlackBerry PlayBook!

[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

With the somewhat disappointing announcement regarding email not being available natively on the BlackBerry PlayBook at launch, we knew it was just a matter of time before apps starting springing up to deal with the problem. The first I've seen is called Early Bird, by

Written specifically for the BlackBerry QNX OS, Early Bird runs locally on your PlayBook so you can store, read, and respond to email even when you don't have an internet connection. POP and SMTP protocols are supported, so you will have access to popular email clients like Gmail, Yahoo Mail!, Microsoft Exchange via POP and most ISP provided email accounts. No word yet on pricing or when Early Bird will be available, but it's one that I am definitely interesting in downloading as soon as I can.


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Last Chance: Win a Tablet of your choice from TouchType!

To celebrate one million downloads of their SwiftKey keyboard app, TouchType is giving away a tablet each to THREE lucky winners! Which tablets? Whichever the winner chooses so long as they're available for purchase for up to $800 where he or she lives. iPad 2, PlayBook, Xoom, Galaxy Tab are all on the table.

How do you enter? TouchType has put together a small survey which shouldn't take more than five or ten minutes to complete. That's it - well, that and a quick perusal of the official entry rules just to make sure you're eligible (sorry minors and SPE employees). The contest is open to readers of Android Central,, TiPb, and WPCentral and ends at midnight Pacific on April 14th.

Not familiar with TouchType? You may have also seen that TouchType made a splash at this year's CTIA with their tablet keyboard for Honeycomb - that's coming soon, but SwiftKey is available now for Android devices. 

So get cracking on the survey, folks - these tablets aren't going to give themselves away.

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Footage from the Foo Fighters Garage Tour posted by RIM

[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

Last month RIM and Best Buy partnered up with Foo Fighters for a contest with prizes including tickets to see Foo Fighters along with a shiny new BlackBerry PlayBook, a convertible case and BlackBerry charging pod. The contest is over and while we aren't sure who won the grand prize, at least one member of CrackBerry, richs, was one of 20 first prize winners.

RIM has updated the site with pictures of the Garage Tour which you can check out at the link below. While the PlayBook/concert contest is over, you can still enter to win a chance to BBM with a member of Foo Fighters during a performance, or an autographed CD.

Check out the full gallery and enter to win the ongoing contests

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BlackBerry Desktop Manager for Windows and Mac updated

With the lanch of the BlackBerry PlayBook just around the corner now I was wondering when we'd see an update roll out for BlackBerry Desktop Manager. As it turns out, today is the day for it. Both, Windows and Mac versions of BlackBerry Desktop Manager have updates available as of now although, the Windows version seems to be more aliigned for the BlackBerry PlayBook. If you go to check for software updates you'll find v6.0.2.42 budle 43 available for Windows and Mac users will find v2.0.1 build 14 which is said to provide important fixes and improvements, and support for 64-bit mode. You can run software update or head on over to the BlackBerry website to download either version.

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Geek Fun: Hooking the BlackBerry PlayBook up to a TV and Controlling it with a Bluetooth Keyboard and Mouse!

[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

One of the cool bonus features I discovered while working on CrackBerry's BlackBerry PlayBook Review was the device's support for a Bluetooth Mouse. I had assumed a Bluetooth keyboard would work, which it does, but was really shocked to see the PlayBook pair with my Apple Mighty Mouse (for those wondering if you can use your BlackBerry phone's keyboard to type on the PlayBook, that doesn't seem to be the case from what I've figured out so far). With a Bluetooth mouse paired, a cursor pops up on the PlayBook's display and you can navigate the PlayBook without having to touch it with your fingers at all.

What's the usage case here? Well, it's sitting on couch with a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and having your PlayBook hooked up via HDMI on a big screen tv, which is exactly what I did in the video above. Party time! Also, without having the software keyboard taking up precious real estate when typing now, in browser apps like Facebook chat become more user friendly. I think the longer term goal of course is to make BlackBerry a powerhouse in mobile computing (they're no longer just a Smartphone maker). Having mouse support built-in is huge for this. You have a tablet for leisure mode, or when you're on the go, and at the office you hook it up to a mouse, keyboard and monitor and get your work done. 

Note, it took me a while to figure out the process for bezel gestures with a mouse (jump to 5 minutes into this video to see how excited I get when I do finally figure it out). To gesture on the PlayBook with a Bluetooth Mouse connected, you click and hold down on the right mouse button when at an edge or corner of the display, and swipe back towards the middle of the screen. Update: ACTUALLY, all you have to do is RIGHT MOUSE click when near an edge and it will do the gesture. No need to hold down and swipe. Briliant!!! Spread the word on that! 

While this might not be a feature PlayBook owners put to use every day, it's definitely a cool feature that once again showcases the underlying power of the QNX-based BlackBerry Tablet OS. Check out the video above.... it felt like I was making history with this one. :)

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Weekly Accessory Roundup - Win the case of your choice for your device!

Contest: Leave a comment telling us which BlackBerry Case you'd like from and you could win it!

There is such a wide variety of cases out there for BlackBerry devices and that means pretty much "something for everyone". Cases not only help us express our personality, but also protect your device from the daily bumps and brusies. From your basic skin case all the way up to the insane protection of an OtterBox, there are loads to choose from. So youre mission this week is to leave a comment letting us know which case available at you'd like to call your own. Be it a silicone sleeve, snap-on hard case or something stylish, let us know what and why (and be sure to include your device) and it could be yours!

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BlackBerry PlayBook vs. Apple iPad 2 Web Browser Comparison

[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

One of the videos I put together for our BlackBerry PlayBook Review was a head to head web browser comparison of the BlackBerry PlayBook vs. Apple's iPad 2. As you'll see in the video, the PlayBook holds up pretty well against the iPad 2. The BlackBerry PlayBook of course supports Adobe flash, which means you can visit a whole of websites and do a whole lot more things on the PlayBook's web browser that you simply cannot do on the iPad. Within websites like Facebook, on the PlayBook you can play videos from within your updates stream, use Facebook chat and even play Farmville. The 7" display can make things a little tight depending exactly what you're doing, but for the most part you can access and use the full internet. Also worth noting is that the PlayBook will ship supporting Flash 10.2 vs. the 10.1 version RIM initially announced on the device. The first software build on my review unit still showed flash at 10.1, but an OS upgrade brought with it 10.2. Good stuff.

The downside of flash support is that it does add a little bit of page load time to websites that might not use flash in their content, but make use of it in their advertisements. I found quite a few sites where the iPad 2 would beat out the PlayBook's page load time by a few seconds, but if we then disabled Flash and did the test again (with cache cleared of course) the PlayBook would be equally quick and in some cases faster. I also have compared my PlayBook to my old iPad classic, and the PlayBook tends to beat the original iPad pretty consistently. With pages fully loaded, I find the experience to be a bit smoother still (panning, zooming, etc.) on the iPad 2, but it's pretty darn solid on the PlayBook as well.

All in all, it's definitely the best web browser on a BlackBerry device to date, and I think it's just going to keep getting better. Check out the video above!

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BlackBerry PlayBook Reviews Roundup!

If you were planning on buying a PlayBook, are you more or less excited after reading the reviews?customer surveys

Last night at 9pm EDT the embargo lifted and the interwebs filled up with BlackBerry PlayBook reviews. You'll definitely want to check out CrackBerry's BlackBerry PlayBook Review if you haven't done so yet, and to save you some time from searching we've roundedup the other PlayBook reviews we've come across so far (if we've missed any, drop the links in the comments).

All in all the final summary points across the majority of the reviews were pretty consistent, though there was definitely a mix in the tone of the reviews. Some of the reviews had a more positive outlook, mainly praising the PlayBook's hardware and making note of the raw power of the QNX-based operating system and what it will allow RIM to do with the BlackBerry platform moving ahead, despite what it may be lacking at launch. Other reviews focused mainly on the negative, being the lack of native email, PIM and quality 3rd party apps at launch. I tried to take a straight out unbiased and honest approach on our review, highlghting the goods along with the bads. In addition to reading the CB review, I'd definitely recommend checking out Anandtech's review - it is also very indepth and comes at the review from more of a technical analysis of the hardware and QNX OS. I also thought Sascha Segan's PCMag review, while quite a bit shorter, hit a lot of great points.

Looking through some of the comments from CrackBerry readers on the review and in the forums, it seems that most folks that have been wanting to get a PlayBook are still set on it, some more than ever. A few are going to cancel their pre-orders and wait till they can play with it in stores before making their final decision.  I have to say, the more I use the PlayBook the more the form factor is growing on me. While working on a review your mindset is very critical and you're not really having "leisure time fun" on the device, as you have a deadline you're working toward. After my review was published last night I kicked back on the couch and straight out just played with on the PlayBook, browsing the web shooting off emails from the Bridge. After three hours of non-stop playtime, I didn't want to put it down and go to bed (Miss CrackBerry is already worried I'm addicted to it). That being the case, I'm thinking this really is going to be the start of a long-lasting friendship.. err... addiction..

More BlackBerry PlayBook Reviews

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Pre-order the BlackBerry PlayBook from Radio Shack

Trailing the line of originally announced retailers that have offered up the BlackBerry PlayBook for presale is Radio Shack. They have finally made the device available for order, however currently looks to only have the 16GB version for $499. You won't get it any earlier than the 19th, so if you already ordered elswhere no need to cancel in favor of The Shack. As to why they only have one version available we're not quite sure. Hit the link below for more.

Pre-order the BlackBerry PlayBook from Radio Shack

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