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How Would You Improve the BlackBerry PlayBook?


I always find the conversations on Engadget’s "How Would You Change…" posts very interesting. David pointed out the latest one they ran which asks readers "How would you change the BlackBerry PlayBook?" The article is actually refreshingly positive but my favorite part is the comments. Since yesterday their readers have contributed over 12 pages of comments and there are some interesting discussions going on. I thought we could pose the same question to all of you.

How would you improve the BlackBerry PlayBook? We know RIM has many updates in store for the PlayBook so some of your suggestions are probably already covered but what else would you change?

35 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. Some of these are RIM specific and some are related to other vendors (in no particular order).

    Fix the bugs within the OS. For example:
    -Bluetooth headset capability
    -The ability to use a BB handset as a wireless keyboard mouse (via Bluetooth)
    -Add spell check functionality
    -Add RAID drivers to allow a portable hard drive to be connected
    -Add Native email, Calendar, BBM, and Android player (updates that EVERYONE has been waiting for)

    -Add a Skype app
    -Add a Blockbuster or Netflix video player
    -Add a Comcast cable app
    -Add native Microsoft apps (Docs to Go just doesn’t cut it)
    -Add other misc apps, readers, and games

    I love my PlayBook and I know RIM is diligently working on updates to fix a lot of these problems. It seems like the users (us consumers) have really great ideas for additional functionality that I don’t think RIM has taken into consideration (or will).

  2. I did not want the engadget article to change my view point so I will read after I comment here. That said here is my list of thing to change.

    1. While I like BB Bridge the playbook need at minimum a offline email client if not a native email client.

    2. Provide an easy to email web pages. I do this constantly on all my mobile devices and tablets and this just need to be added

    3. Look at the hard core video services the use flash like HGO Go and find a way to support those platforms. Flash support is a value to some sites just do not perform on the Playbook

    4. More 3rd party apps is an obvious need. What they really need is the must have apps in a variety of categories like for IP Cameras, RSS Readers, Subscription music, or Magazine subscriptions. My point is get the right apps like a Flipboard, Video Chat (GTalk, Messenger, AOL, FaceBook) or Zinio.

    5. Consolidate the Video Chat and BBM into a single app and provide a native BBM Client. Provide a single unified way for chat type communication.

    Most important RIM needs to provides something unique to the game. Use technology like Bump to allow information for iOS, Android, or WP7 to transfer to the Playbook easily. Most of my iPhone friends LOVE bridge email as they manage email on a PC, iPad, and Phone. HP shows some cool stuff with their tablet and phone. RIM needs to show how they will marry any device to their tablet.

    How and RIM make you iPhone|Android|WP7 Better.


  4. Its unfortunate that there’s no way for them to force those responding to prove that they actually own a Playbook or have used one for more than 30 minutes.

    The signal to noise ratio could be better. However, there is some good feedback buried in there.

    • You sound guilty of something Rob……. don’t be a hater.

    • Apps, apps, and more apps! It was good for RIM to give away PlayBooks to attendees at the April’s BlackBerry World; however, we haven’t seen the quality native apps we expected. It’s been 6 months!

      iPad has GarageBand and lot of other tools making it very useful to budding guitarists, percussion artists, and other musicians. I wish the PlayBook had GuitarPro at the very least! A multi-track recorder would be very nice indeed.

      RIM needs to work with developers to accelerate the development of similar apps for the PlayBook.

      Also, RIM needs to work with business collaboration players like IBM/Cognos, cloud computing companies, and developers on better office tools. That doesn’t necessarily mean Microsoft; there are plenty of great companies that will expect less of RIM in return.

      Finally, EA is a big supporter of the PlayBook but RIM isn’t encouraging similar game development.

      Someone suggested spell check, but I think they really want auto-correction as offered by BlackBerry smartphones. Correct me if I’m wrong about that. Auto-correction is surprisingly missing from the PlayBook. It would make a good addition.

    • Opinions are always welcome. I don’t have a Maserati, but if I did, it would be nice if it had a PlayBook dock :)

  5. I would also like to see the native things on the playbook, as well as Skype, LED notifications, spell check. Having BBM and Video chat combined would be awesome as well, but if it couldn’t, expand the capability to communicate with devices other than just the PlayBook.

  6. spell check

  7. 1000% I want A2DP support so I can use my bluetooth headphones to listen to music and movies and what not. Very surprised this hasn’t been addressed yet

  8. A2DP

  9. Port the full featureset of what is already offered on the BlackBerry phones. (seriously, the existing PB stack pales in comparison to the BB from a completeness perspective)

    Support the full breath of existing BlackBerry phone apps, through a “player” and with a solution for easy porting (i.e. compatible, but not limited, JDK/JRE solution)

    Provide the damn NDK already

  10. I think they need SMS/MMS thru the bridge.
    They also need to allow the user to create their own folders and tabs. The All tab gets pretty cluttered otherwise.
    The bridge should allow us to see our phone’s music in the music app and pictures in the pictures app.
    Themes would be a nice touch.
    We should be able to customize the notifications liek we can on the phone.

  11. I think that the PlayBook is an awesome device. I just got mine, so a lot of the issues that existed before the OS updates to address them were released, I didn’t experience. But here are some things that I hope that RIM adds soon.

    Native email and calendar.
    Bluetooth headset capability
    Auto-correct on the keyboard like we see on our BlackBerries.
    Angry Birds
    Audio settings when using a headset
    The ability to rename files
    Twitter for PlayBook

    That’s all I can think of for now.

  12. I would also like to see the bridge be more integrated with the 2 devices like being able to see pics, and listen to music. Being able to receive and respond to text messages would be great too.

  13. A better pdf reader / editor would give many of us who use the PlayBook in the field more functionality.

    • I would also like to see you be able to take your calls from a playbook (via headset) when you’re bridged. Then you’ll never need to take your phone out of your pocket while you’re working.

      – Docs to go with track changes and “tabs” (like on the browser so I can have multiple documents open)
      – Sheet to go that will let me re-size and format cells ; can support split cell view; and will let me tap cells instead of typing in cell numbers when building formulas.
      – A powerpoint editor.
      – A reasonably functional PDF reader (search, go to link, and ability to input comments would be appreciated)

  14. They should include the following:

    1. Auto correct

    2. the ability to cut paste anywhere

    3.Integration with other apps

    4. Universal search – integration of a quicklaunch/shortcutme where you can swipe to side of any app and see an categorized list of you selected apps and the ability to send text messages.

    5. More integration with Blackberry Bridge that allows you to play your Blackberry apps and thd ability to use the Blackberry browser to open Playbook wifi only apps.

    6. The ability to see weather and stocks on homecreen (not too many widgets like Android has).

  15. All i need are the native email, the pim features, a spell check and turn it into a smartphone lmao! if the pb was jut 2inches smaller all around and still do what it can do, i see a new breed of smart phone/tab that would knock the wind outt every1 across the market board!

  16. my list as a PB owner in no specific order

    1. auto correct
    2. Bluetooth peripheral support
    3. some sort of way to use a blackberry as a remote for media (ex. PB hooked up to stereo in living room while using a torch to control volume/play+pause/next track etc.)
    4. ability to answer calls via bridge using the PB’s speakers/dual mics
    5. release of blackberry oem PB Bluetooth keyboard
    6. BBOS 6/7 player for existing BB apps – i think this is more important than Android apps
    7. universal search
    8. more TAT!
    9. Native PIM apps so long as they are sync-able with my BB PIM apps. I would rather use bridge and not have duplicates than have PIM apps on PB that are not in sync with my BB
    10. USB OTG along with a dock that supports SD Cards, full USB ports (thinking being able quickly and easily putting photos from digital camera onto PB without the computer, as well as using it as a USB host for different devices)

  17. Well for me its spell check, apps (like skype and netflix player) but jus need a increase of apps in the app world haha and native email.

  18. some kind of a release date would be nice

  19. – skype app
    – talkbox
    – chinese input support
    – gps app
    – video editor
    – 3D game to fully utilize playbook hardware.
    – photos app

  20. I hope they add/fix:
    -USB Hosting
    -More Codec support (flv, mp4, Avi…etc)
    -Android App Player
    -Auto Correct in BBM & Browser
    -Native Email, BBM, Calendar, Notepad
    -Add voice and video calling to BBM
    -Zoom during video camera recording
    -Dot like in Android to correct mispelled words
    -Ability to use the BB handset as a wireless keyboard/mousefor the PB
    -Additional options to the backlight timeout and standby time out menus
    -Ability to hide/Delete Apps w/out the need of App World
    -Ability to customize the Tabs
    -App world should be able to scroll side to side like the PB home screen
    -BBM groups
    -fix the duplicate icons showing in BB App World
    -Add a real turn-by-turn guided GPS
    -I’d like to see an actual fuctional docl, that will have HDMI out, Full Size SD with the ability to transfer to the PB and USB as well. I don’t like that stupid rapid charger and that’s all it does. I hate when I’m watching a movie thru HDMI, its laying down flat on the table.
    -Lastly, I’d like to see some REAL games like call of duty, Command and Conquer, Company of Heroes, Madden etc…

    • Also, It would be nice if Playbook could support split screen in the OS for limited functions. I can think of two use cases:

      1) You are watching a movie and want to answer an e-mail, or view a website. The movie can continue playing as a shrunken card over your e-mail or web browser.

      2) You are video chatting, and want to check a fact etc from a document. The small video-chat self-portrait window should stay visible on top of all other OS apps so that at least I can see what they are seeing…
      While you’re at it, let me beam the image of the document I’m viewing to their playbook, if I need to.

  21. Its amazing to see how much of this stuff is already scheduled to come for the PlayBook. Now all we need is for RIM to execute it and release it yesterday… :)

  22. As a Playbook user the features i miss the most, besides some of the already mentioned, are:

    – Better PDF support
    – The ability to print (to PDF)
    – OpenVPN support
    – The ability to create folders on the home screen
    – More incentive on development to bring developers to the platform

  23. I see the Playbook as an ideal option for a Blackberry owner and as a fantastic option for developers to put together uniquely strong apps.

    – #1 : Skype or similar (with Facetime &tc)
    – Great Apps … really great apps
    – Augmented Reality
    – More really amazing Apps like “What’s Up” (see it if you haven’t)
    – Things you can only do on the Playbook (multitasking based apps, real time apps, security apps, video DJs, face recognition)
    – MindManager as native (subsidise it, if needed – BBs and Playbook appeal to this market)
    – Find on Page / Find in Document / etc.
    – Categories for photos
    – Improved File System access and Search
    – Include a docket for your choice of deluxe case (keep a good profile)
    – Hardware acceleration for secure sockets
    – Properly communicate the Enterprise value of current Bridge. I am endlessly impressed by the effective way the Bridge is implemented. A sort of personal network.
    – That said : outgoing HTML formatted mail with signatures
    – Extend the bridge to take/make Calls, Call from contact, Call from phone number in browser, SMS
    – Do you have a Blackberry? prompt on initialization –> If not installs a virtual Blackberry device, so that non-BBowners can get native VPN, Email, Autotext, etc
    – More gestures (like the Android App – Thinking Space)
    – Spelling correction
    – Camera should have a Flash and Autofocus
    – Some option to drag and drop text between applications without using a Clipboard concept (using the borders)
    – Vigilantly quarantine ‘Joke of the Day’ style apps away from real Apps.. encourage high quality strong apps. Nobody needs 6 million “Joke of the Day” apps or “ACMEOurWebsiteAsAnApp” apps. (This is why I believe the Android port process is a blessing in disguise)
    – Status based leaderboard of the most innovative apps – to fuel competition

    • Great points Paul. Been pointing a few RIM guys to this thread :)

      • Hey Thanks, Ronen,

        Some other apps, then…

        The Playbook should be able to do Cognos Active Reports (essentially an MHT reader) standing on its head. It has an OTA installed Cognos BI app, which is very effective but ARs themselves would be nice to see.


        A real Classical Music marketplace built for Classical Musicians, which works like an encyclopedia of music

        Shared Book Annotations

        Transparency Overlay (scribble annotations over a map / photo in layers, with pinch-zoom)

        Relative orientation of devices. Could I fire an email off to an adjacent colleague at a meeting table by sliding it in the direction of their device? Hmmmmm…. Might need a gyro for that.

        An MS Project file viewer (for MS Project and the others) especially one able to overlay with your personal calendar.

        Uncomprimised browsing experience would be enhanced by ability to support Java plugins, such as for ManyEyes

        I look at a lot of different tech: software and OS and this is one rare pice of technology that I have no issue with and a lot of positive feelings about. It just works. The UI is embedded beautifully in the hardware, non-intrusive and it is all wonderfully stable. It’s relaxing when a device can support my way of working by multitasking (sorry iOS) and never skip a beat (sorry Microsoft).

        NB: was going to suggest including a Presi app, but thought to check and … like many web tools, this one works fine on the Playbook without an app. Unlike an iPad, I can view, navigate, even create & edit presis naturally -online- in the full web-based tool… no download. If I need I can create video as a fallback and use that too.

  24. a pdf reader with bookmarking and search functions and a .txt reader and she’s a keeper.

  25. The PlayBook is fantastic! RIM has a couple of rough edges to smooth out, but it is a great product & a wonderful piece of engineering! Marketing folks just don’t know how to sell it!! RIM also needs to finish off some key missing pieces.

    University campuses would be a great place to start! A tablet would be fantastic in such an environment it is such a great opportunity that is being missed! Students also make great developers so putting tablets in their hands will grow the ecosystem.

    Isn’t RIM in a university town????

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