BlackBerry News and Reviews

Easy Smiley Pack for BBM updated to 1.2.8 – Now with even more Smilies and Emoticons

Last month we told you about a free application called Easy Smiley Pack for BBM which added 250+ smilies and symbols to your BBM chats. Easy Smiley Pack is more than just a catalogue of happy faces and cute icons. It's slowly becoming a new form of communication between me and my best friend. I must say she's become an emoticon junkie thanks to this addictive app by S4BB limited. Conversations now consist of symbols instead of actual text. I can't imagine what will happen now that Easy Smiley Pack has been updated. I think regular words will cease to exist.

This update nearly doubles the amount of smilies and symbols available (hence the big jump in file size). It now includes 218 country flags and, because regular numbers are so boring, a pretty cool digit to digit box translation. Both of these new features are easily accessed by hitting the menu key and choosing "Add Easy Flags" and "Add Easy Digits." Just remember that even though these appear in the options menu it will only work when you are in an active BBM chat window. If you love emoticons, then this is the update for you and it's absolutely free. 

1.2.8 Release Notes

  • Minor Update
1.2.7 Release Notes
  • App name changed to "Easy Smiley Pack"
  • 218 new country flags added (access via "Add Easy Flags")
  • 470+ smileys & flags in total now
  • Digit to digit box translation (access via "Add Easy Digits")
  • :) menu item prefix
  • Updated user interface
  • Bug fixes: low-res devices can now use all smiley categories (e.g. 9300), other minor bugs fixed.

Download Easy Smiley Pack from App World 

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BlackBerry OS 6.1.0.44 leaks out, brings some updated apps with it

For anyone tired of hearing about the BlackBerry PlayBook, the new images of the BlackBerry Touch were a nice change. But now, OS OS 6.1.0.44 has shown up and along for the ride is a bunch of updated apps. Extracted and taken from the full, leaked OS updated versions of the following are now available for download:

All of the leaked apps have been tested on a BlackBerry Torch, should any of them give you a hassle about missing files it is suggested you download this file. One thing to note however, is that these are leaked files. If you load them up, you do so at your own risk -- be sure to back things up first.

PS: For those of you asking, no -- it will NOT work on your Torch. The OS leak itself has very little meaning to folks who don't acutally have the devices they are meant for. They do however, make way for more leaks and for hybrid OS builders to make use of the files. Other then that, they really aren't meant for mass consumption. Only the apps can be used by various other devices running BlackBerry 6.

Source: BBH-Plus

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Chapters puts the BlackBerry PlayBook up for pre-order

Given that the BlackBerry PlayBook comes loaded with the Kobo eBook reader application it comes as no surprise Indigo / Chapters is a launch partner with RIM for the sexy tablet. Chapters has started their pre-ordering now. You can head on over to their website for the full run down and some new shots of the BlackBerry PlayBook running the Kobo eRader app.  While you're there, you can pick out some books - we suggest CrackBerry: True Tales of BlackBerry Use and Abuse to hold you over until your PlayBook arrives.

Pre-order your BlackBerry PlayBook today at Chapters

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RIM asks FCC to keep PlayBook details under wraps until launch

So it seems RIM really was trying hard to make that Calendar Q1 launch date for the BlackBerry PlayBook but just couldn't quite make it. Turns out RIM actually had to file an extension with the FCC to keep the details on the tablet private until launch day on April 19th. Apparently the original date was in fact March 31st - if RIM planned to launch later they would have done an April date from the start. The document asked to withhold information regarding the External photos, test setup photos, user manual and internal photos. So any hopes of seeing the FCC approval notes before April 19th looks to be slim. With the BlackBerry PlayBook being shown off more than any other BlackBerry device to date prelaunch, you gotta wonder what's actually in there hiding that we don't already know about. Maybe a surprise or two? Sound off in the comments!

Source: BerryReview

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New BlackBerry Touch (monaco) Hands-On Photos Emerge


The new BlackBerry 6.1 icons look pretty snazzy... but I wonder what the
blacked out ones are for?! 

If you're getting sick of the PlayBook tablet talk and have been hoping for something phone related on the news and rumor front, here it is. BG posted some hands-on photos of the upcoming BlackBerry full touchscreen device (monaco/monza... aka Storm 3 but it won't launch as a Storm) which *could* hit the market as the BlackBerry Touch. Not too much was said by BG that we haven't already seen or talked about in the past about the device (see 2011 BlackBerry Smartphone Roadmap, Monaco Hands-On Video), but he did note that it seems BlackBerry OS 6.1 requires you to create a BlackBerry ID account. We saw this on the BlackBerry PlayBook Setup Tutorial the other day and have talked about this previously on CrackBerry podcasts - BBID is definitely growing into the centralized "iTunes" like account for RIM. As for specs, here's where things have been sitting...

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It's opening day of baseball season - is your BlackBerry ready?

The day that we look forward to all year is finally upon us. It's opening day of the Major League Baseball season, and fans all over the place are ready to cheer on their team for eight months. You have your jersey and cap ready to go, but is your BlackBerry ready to be your baseball companion? We've compiled a few of the best apps and media here to make sure you get up and running right for the entire season. Keep reading to check out all the baseball goodies you shouldn't be without!

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Zillow BlackBerry App now available for download

[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

If you're in the market for a new home there are plenty of apps out there to help you find what you need. Zillow is just one fish in the sea, but it is also one of the best. Today the Zillow BlackBerry App is available as a free download. The app can help in the pursuit of that perfect home, giving you the ability to search for homes right from your device. Features include:

  • Multiple search filters that include price, number of bedrooms and bathrooms and other valuable home-related information.
  • Homes viewable on a map with high-resolution satellite and street view.
  • Home search by location or by typing in a city, ZIP code or address.
  • Full-screen color photos of homes.

The app uses GPS on your BlackBerry to find homes for sale or rent just where you need them. Grab it for free from the link below.

More information/download of Zillow BlackBerry App

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Internet Tethering on the BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet via Bluetooth

BlackBerry PlayBook 101: How to tether your BlackBerry PlayBook to a mobile device that has a tethering plan (does not have to be a BlackBerrry Smartphone!)

Without having the 4G version of the BlackBerry PlayBook at launch (and if iPad stats prove true for the PlayBook the majority will opt for WiFi-only versions anyway), most users will be looking for a way to connect to the internet when away from WiFi. For that, you simply need to connect your mobile device to the PlayBook tablet via Bluetooth. I've noticed a bit of a misconception going around that people think it has to be a BlackBerry Smartphone you tether to, but as RIM has relayed to us the whole time that is not the case.

Remember, the BlackBerry Bridge, which allows you to get your BlackBerry Smartphone's email, calendar, contacts, etc. on your PlayBook (it turns your PlayBook into a big monitor for your BB phone) is different than Internet Tethering. The device you are tethering to does need to support tethering (you'll need to confirm with your plan/carrier if there will be tethering chargers, etc.), but again, it doesn't need to be a BlackBerry. The process for setting up tethering is pretty simple, but so you don't get lost along the way we have a quick tutorial to help you get it done.

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Contest: Win a free copy of Excite from EThemes and ThaQueenCami - 50 copies available!

It's exciting when talented theme makers decide to collaborate and combine their skills to make a truly one-of-a-kind theme. Ethemes got together with ThaQueenCami and came up with Excite, a unique and spectacular BlackBerry theme with a minimal style interface and some really cool features. The home screen you get with Excite has a hidden dock with eight user defined icons and hidden today. There is an additional static icon on the bottom of the screen that launches the 12th icon from your app screen. Battery and signal meters are represented by number at the top of your screen, and neutral colors throughout ensure that all of your wallpapers will look awesome. I think the pictures really speak for themselves, and you can see why Excite is already taking the theme world by storm.

Excite is on sale right now for $1.99 (regularly $2.99) and is compatible with BlackBerry 9650, 97xx, and 9800, BB6 only.

Contest: Ely and Cami are really proud of this creation and they want to give you guys a shot at winning a free copy of Excite! We have 50 copies to give away, so if you'd like to enter to win and have one of the compatible devices listed above, leave a comment below to enter. One entry per person please, contest ends this Sunday at midnight PST.

For more information/screenshots and to purchase Excite

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Google Drops Connector Support for 4.1.x

Shortly after RIM announced the end of life for BES 4.1.6 & 4.1.7 for both Microsoft Exchange and Lotus Domino, Google annonced that as of July 2, 2011 Google Apps Connector for BES 3.x will no longer support these BES versionsDeprecating support for Blackberry Enterprise Server 4.1.7

Released on 3/15/2011
Starting July 2, 2011, RIM will be deprecating support for BES 4.1.6 and 4.1.7. As a result, Google Apps will stop supporting these BES versions starting July 2, 2011. Google Apps Connector for BES 3.x will still be supported for BES 5.x. We strongly urge customers to upgrade to BES version 5.x and version 3.x of the Connector.

Editions included:Google Apps for Business, Government and Education

If you're not sure what Google Apps Connector Bla1ze did a post previously.  The quick answer is that it's a much lower cost Mail, Calendar and Shared Document ecosystem for the corporate and educational world taking aim at the Microsoft Exchange and SharePoint honeypot.

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There Can Be Only ONE - BlackBerry 7 to merge the Best of BlackBerry 6.1 and QNX?!

RIM is an interesting (and confusing?) spot right now as it's juggling operating system platforms as they push forward on development of the PlayBook's QNX-based BlackBerry Tablet OS and also work on BlackBerry 6.1 which will ship on the next generation of BlackBerry Smartphones. Beyond that the OS details have been relatively scarce and it has been leaving all of us CrackBerry addicts with some key questions, like Why is it taking so long to get these 2011 BlackBerry Smartphones out the door? and What's QNX on a BlackBerry Smartphone going to look like?  

Thanks to word coming to us via BerryReview from notes taken during a RIM internal developer keynote given by CTO David Yach today, things are starting to make more sense. Here are some of the highlights from the presentation: 

  • A big portion of the talk is focusing on the benefit RIM will get from centralizing processes and tools
  • One of the key reasons OS 6.1 is falling behind schedule is miscommunication between teams in the critical path of the project
  • He didn't focus on the problems as much as how RIM is going to solve them by easing conflicts in the critical path
  • There is a new project "Highlander" using the concept from the movies "There can be only one"
  • This project is taking the best features from OS 6.1 and the QNX OS to make OS 7. This seems to be where the rumors about OS 6.1 having a QNX core are coming from
  • RIM is "very happy" with OS 6.1 but is struggling with losing the features users love
  • OS 6.1 is almost 10 years old and has pushed its limits
  • Still they are very happy about the "Liquid Graphics" in OS 6.1 adding a WOW factor to BlackBerrys
  • This new OS 7 will also be the OS for the Playbook down the road. Seeing the theme of "there can be only one" ?
  • RIM is still in the "early stages" of OS 7 with a target of 2012

Listening to RIM's 4th quarter investors' call last week, Co-CEO Jim Balsillie made it clear that the company is going through a big transition right now and this information really sheds great insight onto what exactly that transition entails. Right now RIM is trying to push forward the development of two separate operating systems as the PlayBook and 2011 Phones get pushed out to market, but the real end goal here is to kill the fragmentation in the company and focus and centralize efforts, from tools and processes right down to the operating system on both tablets and phones. The aptly nicknamed "Highlander" OS 7 should bring the best bits of the traditional BlackBerry OS into the new QNX platform, upon which both the phones and tablet os will be one and the same (assuming of course that means all this info is legit). It makes a ton of sense that RIM would want to bring everything onto the new operating system as soon as possible (although I'm sure RIM will keep the old OS and phones hanging around for a while so they can sell them at low cost in emerging markets - Balsillie noted last week that RIM could be in a place to take advantage of a tiered strategy). 

And while the Highlander theme does point to there being ONE operating system for phone and tablet, I wouldn't necessarily take this to mean only one identical User Interface (UI) for phones and tablets. Of course it's pure speculation at this point, but I'm sure with the folks from TAT now part of RIM, that there will be differentiation in the  user experience from phone to tablet (full touch experience with bigger screens vs. phones with smaller screens and keyboard, etc.). I've sort of been dreading the year 2012 (with the end of the world and all supposed to happen), but with this news I sort of wish 2012 would come tomorrow. I want my BlackBerry 7!

Source: Berry Review

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Sears now taking pre-orders for the BlackBerry PlayBook

Although one of the emails that sparked off the whole pre-order launch madness didn't really pan out as stated, that doesn't mean it wasn't true in one way or another. Sears certainly had the best intentions when they sent out their previous BlackBerry PlayBook emails -- they just so happened to get the date wrong. Either way, folks looking to scoop up a BlackBerry PlayBook can now hop on over to the Sears Canada website and place your pre-order. No price difference from any other retailer but if you're looking to grab one with some ease, something tells me Sears will be the way to go.

More information at the Sears pre-order page

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Quick Review: MLB.com At Bat 2011

[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

Although it carries a pretty hefty price tag by BlackBerry standards ($14.99), MLB.com AT Bat 2011 is the best there is when it comes to following your favorite team all season. The app packs all that you need to stay on top of everything baseball. You can have quick access to your favorite teams, check scores, standings, news, watch highlight videos, listen to live game audio and more. If you are baseball fan at all you really can't go wrong on this purchase. Check out my quick review above then head over the the link below to purchase.

More information/download of MLB.com At Bat 2011

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Get Pageonce - Money & Bills Pro free for a limited time

[ youtube video link for mobile viewing ]

Back in November we saw the Pageonce - Personal Assistant "Super App" featured in a BlackBerry commercial for App World. The commercial showed the app in such a light that I was intrigued enough to install the free version ($6.99 for the Pro version seemed a bit much when the only difference looked to be the free came with ads). I thought I was getting an app that would keep track of tasks, map locations of places and assist me in keeping my daily schedule in check. That's what a personal assistant would do right? I was a bit confused when I saw that the app was in reality only for managing my bills & bank accounts but liked the app enough to keep it on my BlackBerry. Now Pageonce has renamed their app to Pageonce - Money and Bills (much more appropriate title for what the app actually does).

The app allows you to keep track of the following:

  • Monitor your credit card transactions
  • Check your bank account status
  • View your detailed bill statements
  • Review your investment portfolio
  • Track your frequent flyer miles and travel itineraries Advanced alerts and push notification system
  • All upcoming bills due dates and itineraries will automatically be added your calendar

For a limited time, you can grab the Pageonce - Money and Bills Pro version for FREE (only available in the US) in BlackBerry App World! I don't know how long this offer will last (seems to have started in the last day or so) but if you were looking for an app to help managed your financial accounts, I'd head on over and pick up this deal quick!!

This promotional offer is only available to BlackBerry users on the following US Networks: AT&T, Verizon, Metro PCS and Sprint

More information/download of Pageonce - Money and Bills

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BlackBerry Messenger for iPhone coming April 26th? Not really

By now, you've no doubt heard the rumors of BlackBerry Messenger arriving on iOS come April 26. The issue was raised in the forums while many people have stated they'd love to see it happen -- in this case, it's just simply not true. As you all can tell by looking at the posts from yesterday we never made mention of it despite the forums and our poor email inboxes filling up with tips of the news. Having taken the time to reach out to RIM we can confirm the following:

RIM did not hold a conference in Toronto this week and Jim Balsillie did not speak at any event in Toronto this week.

As much as some would like to see BlackBerry Messenger span across different OS platforms, it's just not happening yet. Not to say it couldn't some day but April 26th is not the time. We couldn't in good faith, post such a rumor without being able to confirm it or at the very least have good reason to believe it to be true. This is common across all of our posts, if we're not posting something that appears to be popping up everywhere else, we have good reason for it. As it turns out, this one -- is complete BS.

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Weekly Accessory Roundup - Win a BlackBerry PlayBook accessory of your choice!

Contest: Win a BlackBerry PlayBook accessory of your choice! Keep reading for details.

So you are anxiously awaiting that BlackBerry PlayBook to show up on April 19th. You chose your model and now you just have to wait. But what about accessories? Surely you'll need a case or charging pod to make your new tablet the best it can be right? Not to worry we have you covered. We already have a bunch of BlackBerry PlayBook accessories available for preorder (and many, many more on the way) so if you want to get to the front of the line it's worth pre-ordering now and keeping your eyes locked to ShopCrackBerry.com as we get more items in stock.

So what do you want? Maybe just a simple skin case or super-charged OtterBox? Or maybe a BlackBerry Rapid Charging Stand or just a spare travel charger? Check out our full line of goods and keep reading for your chance to win a BlackBerry PlayBook accessory of your choice!

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Where's my BLUE (or white or orange?!) BlackBerry PlayBook?

Back at the 2010 BlackBerry Developer Conference where the BlackBerry PlayBook was officially announced, RIM had both black and blue units on display (embedded within glass - click here to see our historic "first hands-on playbook" video). As a fan of gadgets that don't follow the traditional dark/black motif, the blue teaser unit gave me hope that RIM would launch the PlayBook with more than one color choice. Unlike phones where the traditional physical keyboard allows you to spot a BlackBerry at 400 yards, tablets sort of all look the same, so I was thinking RIM could really differentiate themselves in the space by taking a more colorful and dare I say playful approach on their hardware casing, which based on its fairly straightforward design one would think would be relatively easy to change up the colors on.

With no other colors announced for the BlackBerry PlayBook to date, it's looking like RIM is going to market with the good 'ole Henry Ford approach (you can have it any color you want, as long as it's black!). I guess it's not too big a deal as for those who want color as we know a ton of brightly-colored BlackBerry PlayBook cases will be available. Despite that being the case, I'd still love to see RIM offer the PlayBook in more colors. Am I alone here, or who's with me??? What color would you want to see RIM release the PlayBook in next? White? Blue?? CrackBerry Orange???

If cases are not your thing and RIM doesn't release any followup colors of the PlayBook anytime soon, I did follow up with the folks at ColorWare to see if they'd be offering custom paint jobs on the PlayBook.  They haven't announced anything yet, but promised CrackBerry readers will be the first to know when they do.

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Office Depot now accepting BlackBerry PlayBook pre-orders

If you have been waiting for the early-rumored Office Depot to make the BlackBerry PlayBook available then today is your day. The office retailer is now accepting pre-orders for the tablet that is set to release on April 19th. Same details apply on this one - you can grab the 16GB, 32GB or 64GB versions for $499, $599 and $699. The PlayBook will ship between April 19th and April 21st if you go the delivery route, or you can pick up in stores on release day. So if Best Buy and Staples aren't your thing, head over to the link below and get your order on.

Pre-order the BlackBerry PlayBook from Office Depot

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How Do You Use Your Blackberry: Do you play games on your device?

Touchscreen users - Do you play games on your device?survey software   QWERTY/Pearl users - Do you play games on your device?online survey  

Another week another burning BlackBerry question in hopes on an answer. Our pal Fabian sent this one in and now I'm curious to know as well. We all know that apps are a big part of the BlackBerry experience. Some users have a few while others have tons. I like to keep my app bank small (10 or so) but some people I know have over 50 apps on their device. When it comes to games however it's a totally different story. BlackBerry has never been known as a gaming device, so finding good ones can someitmes be a challenge. I actually don't have any games on my device at the moment, so I'm curious to know just how many of you play games on your device. This poll could have gone in multiple directions (how many games, what device etc) but we'll try to keep it simple. We just want to know if you do or don't play games on your device. We've split it up into two polls - one for touchscreen users (Torch, Storm) and one for everyone else. So cast your vote in the poll above, then drop a comment letting us know why you do or don't play games on your BlackBerry.

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Ontario Finance Minister Dwight Duncan has a BlackBerry PlayBook

We're rather used to celebrities getting devices ahead of actual release but The Finance Minister of Ontario, Dwight Duncan, gets one too?! Craziness, I say. In any event, Mr. Duncan showed up to take part in the Ontario budget lock-up carrying the yet to be released BlackBerry PlayBook at his side.

When questioned about the device and wheter or not he was getting paid for showing the device off Mr. Duncan replied “I think that we should be very proud of Ontario businesses that innovate.” while that may sound like a closing argument statement he also noted that the budget included an extra $50-million over the next 10 years for the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in Waterloo, Ontario. The institute of course was founded by RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis.

In addition to carrying a BlackBerry PlayBook to the lockup, the printed version of the Ontario provincial budget also features an image of the BlackBerry PlayBook on the front of it. According to the information, Mr. Duncan was so fond of the PlayBook and his budget which concentrates on funding for innovative organizations such as RIM that he wanted to read it off his BlackBerry PlayBook. In the end though, the opposition declined his request.

Source: Globe and Mail

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