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More BlackBerry PlayBook Features Confirmed – GPS Mass Storage Mode and More

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At a PlayBook event yesterday RIM was showing of a little newer build (though nowhere near what they actually have internally) and I noticed some interesting things. Nothing mind blowing but for those with PlayBook envy like me every detail counts. For example, one of the things that always struck me about the PlayBook was the lack of a blinking LED notification. While that might not be necessary on the PlayBook I was always curious to see how you know their are notifications for you to address.

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I happened to see this show up in our demo and as you can see the notification is shown by a slight red highlight in the top left corner. The notification went away before I had a chance to see how you view the notifications but it was simply trying to tell us it was running low on battery.

Here are some other things I noticed or had confirmed:

The BlackBerry PlayBook DEFINITELY includes a GPS built in along with an 6 way magnetometer for augmented reality apps. This will be a cool development. I tried digging through the PlayBook documented API’s and have not found anything about GPS yet…

I asked RIM how you will get video and music on and off the PlayBook and it looks like there will be two ways. There will be desktop manager which will allow you to copy over your music AND backup your device. You will also supposedly be able to mount your PlayBook storage drive and copy music, movies, and more kind of like how BlackBerrys currently work where it will ask you if you want to use USB mass storage mode.

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The BlackBerry PlayBook Music app is sweet with some cool features that let you sort and find your music. Who knows it might just totally replace my BlackBerry smartphone for that.

RIM has really improved the touch input on the BlackBerry PlayBook compared to what they were showing at CES in January. The touch controls are very easy and do not require the same double tapping that we kind of needed to do then. Also gestures are super fluid.

I figured out how you put the device to hibernate mode to stop accidental touching. You simply tap the slightly small power button and it goes into sleep mode. Tap it again to wake it up. The device also has a screen saver mode where it simply turns off the screen and I found you could get off that mode by just swiping your finger on the screen.

Also interesting was that you can reboot the BlackBerry PlayBook simply by holding the power button. The demo device took about 30-40 seconds to reboot but that is supposedly even faster in later internal builds. Still rebooting will be far and in between since app installs do not require a reboot and potentially OS updates also do not require a reboot due to how QNX works.

Side loading of apps to a BlackBerry PlayBook from your computer will be possible. From what I could tell OTA installs will be limited to BlackBerry App World for now but who knows. Enterprise users will also have some way of provisioning apps on a device but I couldn’t get more info than that.

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Need for Speed for PlayBook is awesome. It is a global setting if you want to allow apps to run in the background like a game or video when you switch apps. They have some fun names for the different modes but my picture of the different names came out fuzzy. :(

Let me know if there are any other questions you wanted answered and I will try to get them answered! Obviously I already asked when it will be released and I am still hearing Q1-ish so think March-April.

Here are some other shots I took of the enterprise SAP apps and other fun stuff at the event:

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24 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. Cool! I still cant wait for it!!
    Did u happen to ask for release date too? 😀

  2. Awesome!

    But could you tell if the “highlight” was the actual screen or a led embedded in the corner?? it seems like it would eat a lot of power if the screen had to turn on for notifications? or would they only show when you were using the tablet?

  3. Looking good. So Ronen has PlayBook envy and we all have Ronen envy…

  4. I was wondering if the PlayBook will have its own calendar, if so what does it look like? Will there be hardware updates that allow you to access your pin info, without doing a BlackBerry Bridge?

  5. please i wanna know how long the battery can last thanks

  6. “The BlackBerry PlayBook Music app is sweet with some cool features that let you sort and find your music. Who knows it might just totally replace my BlackBerry smartphone for that.”
    With no option for add-in storage, the one thing the PlayBook *can’t* do for me is replace my BlackBerry for music. I still can’t believe that RIM of all companies went the restricted-storage route.

    (Frankly, even with a 32GB SD card I’m finding I’m swapping music out too much — and the desktop sync times are atrociously slow when you have a lot of music. But I digress.)

    • @marc:
      Frankly I for one can’t see carrying something as big as a PlayBook for listening to music. I MUST carry a BlackBerry smartphone for work, I would rather play music on it. And I totally agree it is ridiculously burdensome how long music synching takes on a BlackBerry. I’ve pretty much given up, I just take the memory card out of my phone, put it in a card reader, and copy music to/from at my PC then pop the card back in.

      • “Frankly I for one can’t see carrying something as big as a PlayBook for listening to music. I MUST carry a BlackBerry smartphone for work, I would rather play music on”

        That’s a good point too. Especially if carrying a phone anyway, a 7″ device for music seems a bit excessive.

        “just take the memory card out of my phone, put it in a card reader, and acopy music to/from at my PC then pop the card back in.”

        You know… for some reason, it never actually occurred to me to do that — and I have a reader built into my laptop 😀 The BB is able to recognize and index the music w/out problems that way?

        I think it’s because I really like the *idea* of wifi sync, and wish it actually worked as well as it was supposed to. Because when it does work (50-70% of the time), it’s great — but it still isn’t really worth the extra 20 minutes it takes to sync my device via USB.

        • Why go through all of that and then have to wait for your phone to re-boot when you all you have to do is use mass storage mode and drag and drop all of your music to your media card and which takes just a few min of your time. User Error and not asking if there is an easier way is always the reason for peoples ignorance when it comes to mobile devices.

          • Ytou reboot your phone to take the memory card out? You know, I heard someone say once that User Error and not asking if there is an easier way is always the reason for peoples ignorance when it comes to mobile devices.

            Yes, I know that whatever model you have may require pulling the battery to get to the sd card — but that just underscores my point :that you should probably think through what you’re abouy to say before you decide to insult random strangers on the Internet.

            And to answer your question: tranfer via an integrated reader is faster if you have a huge amount of files; if not, then certainly mass storage mode is less hassle even without the reboot requirement.

            • I was not trying to insult anyone sorry if it came over as that. I was simply stating the fact the removing the sd card at all is a slow process when all you have to do is use what is avaible to you out of the box. And to my knowledge there is only four devices that you do not have to remove your battery to get to the sd card. Once again sorry to have offened you or anyone that read what I said.

            • I was not trying to insult anyone and I am sorry if it came over that way. I was simply stating the fact that why remove your sd card at all, when there is a way to do this out of the box. To my knowledge there is only about four/five bb device that you do not have to remove your battery to get to your sd card. But once again I am sorry if what I wrote offended you and anyone else.

              • No worries, it’s easy to misinterpret when all you have to go by is written text.

                The reason to use SD card directly is speed; if you’re copying a couple of files, mass storage mode is best but when you want to transfer a few GB of data, it’s much faster to use an attached or onboard reader.

          • Actually I see that you’re on a 9800 too – which means that it’s just plain silly if you’re rebooting in order to use your media card externally. And even sillier to have commented on it.

          • I wouldn’t call using a method that is FAR faster than mass storage mode “ignorant” Victor. And it IS, MUCH faster to write several gigs of MP3’s to the card in my pc’s card reader than over BlackBerry mass storage mode.

            Why do you reboot your phone to change memory card? I have a Tour and a Storm and don’t have to reboot either.

        • “The BB is able to recognize and index the music w/out problems that way?”
          Never had a problem. Even with MP3’s originally ripped over on my PS3.

  7. WOW!!… going to be great for GPS in my Truck…. maybe these auto makers should just put docking stations in there cars and trucks… then I can plug my playbook in and have GPS, weather, car stats… etc… now that would be something.

    My truck already has QNX with MyGIG, now if it only just interfaced with QNX on playbook!

  8. Nice feature. I always thought that the BB screen is too small for map use.

    • Dude, even the lowest model pb has 32 TIMES more memory than the highest end BlackBerry smartphone (16GB vs. 512MB). Get the 32GB or 64GB and it’s 64 or 128 TIMES more. Those factors go even higher if you’re like me and have a lowly 258MB Tour or 128MB Storm.

  9. Need encrypted global phone and GPS that works around the World please.

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