What Road Worrier Wants Added To The BlackBerry PlayBook

What Road Worrier Wants Added To The BlackBerry PlayBook

We’ve been waiting a while, but the BlackBerry PlayBook finally goes on sale officially in Australia today. I’m keen to get one, but I’ll be even keener when a few software enhancements get rolled in.

I’ve been following the BlackBerry PlayBook project closely ever since it was first announced last September. Regular Lifehacker readers will know that the BlackBerry has long been my smartphone platform of choice, leading me to projects such as working for a week using nothing but a BlackBerry Torch.

What Road Worrier Wants Added To The BlackBerry PlayBook

That makes me a particularly obvious candidate for using the PlayBook. While it works perfectly well as a standalone tablet, its close integration with the BlackBerry via the BlackBerry Bridge software, which syncs with your email, calendar and tasks via BlueTooth, makes it especially appealing if you are already regularly using a BlackBerry as your major phone. (Browsing your calendar on a seven-inch screen is much easier than on the standard BlackBerry screen.)

I’ve already written about the pre-release demo of the PlayBook I experienced, and debated with Gizmodo editor Nick over the prospects of for the platform. Ahead of the Australian launch More recently, I got a loan device to play with for a week or two. That gave me the opportunity to properly test BlackBerry Bridge (which is very straightforward to operate) and use the PlayBook more extensively. From that experience, I identified three key areas which I’d like to see improved in the device. That’s not to say I think it’s a problem to use without them — far from it — but these changes would make it a much more productive device, for me and (I suspect) for others.

A handful of extra key productivity apps. For my working life, the two most essential mobile apps are Dropbox and WordPress — they’re the first items I install on any test Android device, for instance. Unfortunately, neither is available in an officially sanctioned version for the PlayBook. There are a couple of unofficial Dropbox clients, but they don’t offer enough basic features to be worth considering. I’d really like to see these added. RIM has put a lot of effort into trying to recruit app developers, so I hope this bears fruit.

Rolling out official Android support. Later this year, the PlayBook OS will add the ability to run apps from the Android Market. This won’t be an automatic pass to everything on offer there; developers need to recompile their apps to be PlayBook friendly, which means not everyone will bother. But I trust quite a few will, thereby introducing a new depth of app availability to the platform.

Adding a native email client. If you’re a BlackBerry owner, the lack of a basic email client isn’t a problem — you’ll just use Bridge to sync your phone. But I can understand how other users who are tempted by the PlayBook’s design, intuitive multitasking and battery life might still be put off by having to access their email via a browser. RIM clearly has no shortage of email smarts, so this really shouldn’t be hard to add in.

Anyway, that’s my take on where I’d like to see improvements to the PlayBook platform. Got your own thoughts on the PlayBook? Tell us in the comments.

Lifehacker Australia editor Angus Kidman likes all this tablet competition, even if he hasn’t found his own ultimate perfect choice just yet. His Road Worrier column, looking at technology and organising tips for travellers, appears each week on Lifehacker.


  • talk about DERP!

    Went to Harvey Norman today and no one has heard of it (in the end i was telling them its like an iPad but it plays flash). Had to call up 2 different stores and finally got an answer. Have to wait another 2 weeks for them to ship it from Sydney to Perth. What a joke!!! Does anyone else know of any other retailers that are selling this? After the effort i just went through i would rather not shop at fail Harvey Norman! I cant even order it off there site!

    RIM fails with picking them.

    • Would love to hear your opinion of the deficiencies of the BueBox app. The latest version, v1.2 I think, has got the functionality you’d expect from a good DropBox client. If you disagree, then what do you think it is missing? I’m just curious..

      Also, the WordPress team has stated they will wait until the Tablet OS Java SDK is available before they attempt to port the WordPress client for Blackberry over to the Playbook. The good news is that the WordPress Dashboard seems to work pretty well in the PB browser until then. I just wish RIM would make bookmarklets possible in their browser..

      • What immediately put me off was that it wouldn’t open text files. Not the most complex task! (That may have been an earlier version.)

    • I also went into Harvey Norman (in QLD) to check it out. Expected to see a display devoted to the Playbook given that they’re the only retailer. Nope. Asked two staff – who had no idea what it was. Finally they looked it up on their system, made a phone call, and turns out they’re out the back in a box. I felt embarrassed for Harvey Norman and Blackberry. How hard is it to send a memo to staff to 1. introduce the product and 2. stock the shelves on launch day??

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