There is no doubt that RIM was missing quite a few essential features when it first launched the BlackBerry PlayBook. Now that we have what we been waiting for on the PlayBook native PIM apps, what is next? RIM is busy working on the transition of BlackBerry PlayBook OS to BlackBerry 10 with a BB10 launch in early fall. So far we have seen quite a few impressive features from RIM and leaked slides. This has impressed most of us but the media really isn’t giving RIM any room for mistakes. When BlackBerry 10 launches RIM has to deliver a solid experience in both hardware and operating system. Even then am sure that certain media outlets that love to write inflammatory articles will still find areas to criticize.
What that means is that RIM needs to limit their weaknesses at launch and come out swinging to silence critics. They need to deliver a transition that will make it easier for current BlackBerry 7 and lower users to migrate to BlackBerry 10. In other words feature parity at the very least and no critical missing functionality like desktop contact sync. They also need to make it dead simple for BlackBerry users to move their information and functionality from their current BlackBerry smartphone to BlackBerry 10. That is one reason I love using my BlackBerry, getting something done on it is easy, versus the experience on iPhone, or Android which makes me less social and it feels like a task to get things done.
To deliver this RIM has to bring the features BlackBerry users love on their BlackBerry devices to BlackBerry 10, and new features as well. They must make it easier for developers to integrate their applications by opening API’s to devs so that they can create super apps. Now that we have email one of the things I love about the BlackBerry is the ability to easily share and stay connected with social apps such as Twitter, FaceBook. I like how easy it is to share articles, pictures, and other media, and that is what makes BlackBerry different from Android devices. Sure Androids have those features but is actually a pain trying to stay socially connected and each app lives in its own world (not integrated). I want RIM to bring that same experience from current BlackBerry devices to future devices including the PlayBook. OS 2.0 is a huge step in the right direction now all they need is to make the experience even better, and not lose features in the transition. The apps on the PlayBook are awesome and their BlackBerry 7 smartphone feature apps like Twitter are very mature. On the other hand I can’t really say I have found a really good Twitter app on Android, they look nice and have awesome features but I still find it harder to stay connected with Android devices than I can with a BlackBerry. BlackBerry devices are simply a get things done type of devices, not having to jump through so many steps to get where I want to be.
Here are a two areas that I really hope RIM hits out of the park with BlackBerry 10 at launch.
Integrated PIM not apps: The addition of native PIN apps was great but after a while you start to think this apps are not integrated to the OS and it makes a less than desirable user experience. The native PIM apps should be part of the OS the user should be able instantly load the email app and start typing away, instead you are left with the app hour glass until it loads all the content. This should be something that RIM excels on. Yes the PIM apps are beautiful, and provide the best mobile emailing system, but RIM needs to take it a step further.
We already see signs of this in leaked screenshots of the email and messages app always being open when you swipe to the left. This is a great idea and is actually how I use my BlackBerry all the time. Its a one stop shop for things I need to get done. Now I just want to see more of that just like the current super app integration in BlackBerry 7. In the current BlackBerry OS the some apps are always running, which makes it easier to get to them.
This is a game BlackBerry devices have won since the start, and they do not need to lose. Our buddy Luc, made this even more clear when he noticed that the current browser, and the PlayBook lack the ability to change the fonts on the current OS.
One really, Super Annoying thing with Android and iOS devices is the fact that you cannot silence certain messages unless you either choose to silent all. On BlackBerry I love being able to set individual ringtones for certain people, customize how loud, I want certain messages, and choose to silence certain messages, or calls and leave others that I do want to hear from on loud mode.
Why do I find this so annoying on other devices? A while back I was on call for work and I had to leave my phone to ring at night I usually get a ton of emails, and other messages at night on BlackBerry I can easily set it to ring just that one call or only phone calls and turn of message notifications. You do not have that luxury on Android without resorting to hacks and third party apps of varied effectiveness. I am really hopeing RIM does not make the mistake of leaving those features BlackBerry users enjoy and probably even take for granted until they use a different device. In all is the little things that we have on BlackBerry that make the experience so much better.
Give us profile options, virtual volume controls, make that transition from current BlackBerry devices pain free. Sure there might be some features that may not make it but this is the main reason BlackBerry is different and I would hate to have a device with a similar experience to Android or iPhone.
Another thing that RIM needs to be careful is fragmentation, right now with current devices that fragmentation does exist but is not as bad as it is for Android developers having so many devices to worry about. Creating apps for so many different devices can become really painful and RIM needs to address this at the beginning. It also gets really annoying for users who find that their device is not supported for key apps.
These are just thoughts that I think RIM needs to consider if they aren’t already working on it for BB10. It is hard to say what we can expect because we have not seen the full BlackBerry 10 OS in action so there could be a chance RIM has addressed or plans to address some of this issues. In short RIM needs to bring the current features that make BlackBerry different, and improve on them with the strengths of QNX and their UI design team while making it a clear functional evolution from the current BlackBerry OS.