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BlackBerry Needs To Open Up Over The Air (OTA) App Installs on BlackBerry 10


I was having a conversation with a good friend of mine last week and it struck a chord. One of the decisions BlackBerry made with the PlayBook and then BlackBerry 10 was to limit app installs to BlackBerry World and remove the OTA (Over the Air) browser installation method BlackBerry had supported for years. At the time BlackBerry claimed they made this change due to developers requesting a single app store. At the time this was not a bad idea and might not have been such a pain point if BlackBerry had greatly improved the feature set of BlackBerry World. Sadly that never happened and BlackBerry 10 users and developers now sit in a situation where we had more features and flexibility on BlackBerry’s legacy platform than we have now.

It has been over 2 years since the PlayBook first launched killing off BlackBerry Over The Air downloads on the QNX platform. So far this has forced us to sacrifice the following features that we either had on BlackBerry’s legacy platform or through third party app stores like Mobihand:

  • No Coupon codes – This seems to be coming some time in the future but we had this on Mobihand YEARS ago.
  • No EASY way for developers or even BlackBerry to beta test software – Forcing users to sideload apps (even official ones like BBM Channels)
  • No Gift Cards or ability to send a BlackBerry World gift
  • Very limited descriptions for apps – They cannot even use bullet points
  • Low resolution screenshots
  • No ability to embed rich content like video trailers of the app
  • Useless review system that is constantly gamed by certain shady developers and does not allow developers to respond and resolve reviews.
  • No recommendation system – Even something as simple as similar apps or apps that other users installed that also have an app.
  • Snail paced rollout system that takes over a day for all users to get an update
  • Ridiculously long approval process that can take up to weeks
  • No visible change log unless you already have the app installed
  • the list goes on…

Most of these issues could easily be solved by the BlackBerry World development team. Sadly it has been years and we are only just barely starting to scratch the surface of what BlackBerry 7 and Mobihand were able to do ages ago. These are not unreasonable requests and I am absolutely shocked that it has taken BlackBerry so long to implement something as simple as coupon codes. We are not talking about innovative features. These are features that are considered elementary on any other app store.

That is why I propose an interim solution until the BlackBerry World team gets their house in order. BlackBerry should allow for over the air downloads on BlackBerry 10. This should include the ability to do an OTA install of both BlackBerry 10 BAR files AND Android APK files. While I realize this does open up a security risk this is no different than what users are already doing by mass sideloading applications. BlackBerry even advocates a form of sideloading for official apps like BBM Channels which makes me wonder if we cannot just skip the convoluted step altogether.

In one fell swoop BlackBerry could solve quite a bit of the “App Gap” on BlackBerry 10 by opening up what is now limited to users who have gone through the pain of sideloading an app. We already know that it is VERY easy for BlackBerry to be able to allow OTA application installation from a technical standpoint since we already have apps like LocalBar that simply fool BlackBerry 10 into thinking the app was sideloaded. I realize that this may lead to piracy but I have heard quite a few solutions proposed by devs that would be relatively easy to implement.

Personally I would rather BlackBerry World team just started kicking ass and taking names but so far they have been one of the worst offenders when it comes to holding back the capabilities of BlackBerry 10. That is why I propose BlackBerry open up OTA downloads and bypass what I consider to be a horrible excuse for an app store in 2013.

What do you think?

22 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. I’m with you a 100% but I don’t think it’s going to happen, especially after their latest financial report.
    They blindly created their app store as a me-too solution, without any sort of vision and a total lack of resources and are now hoping to generate a little bit of service revenue through it that would make up for the loss of BIS.

    It does make sense to have a store for people who don’t know better and are scared of what can lie outside the walls and I guess their views is that advanced and curious users know how to sideload, so that’s good enough.

  2. Feel free to apply and get things changing

  3. I’m not sure what’s going on with them. Years ago when I looked at the Java APIs that BlackBerry had for OS 4.2/4.5/4.7 I wondered if anyone there actually used the device for anything other than e-mails. OS 5-7.1 added some features, but also seemed to remove some basic stuff previous versions had (although even the older OSes had poor functionality for things like sending files by Bluetooth compared to other phone systems). And the PlayBook OS also was missing some basic stuff that was in OS 7.1.

    Are there patent issues/fears of being sued stopping them from adding what seems to be simple and straightforward functionality, or do they really not realize there’s a need for these things?

    I have to say, one of the reasons I like this site is because you do talk about these issues in hopes of BlackBerry taking note and acting on them. In the mobile field these days, you can’t afford to have a duck out of row.

  4. The “lack of” refund system is a complete joke… You have to manually track down the general Appworld CS form and ask for a request manually and wait for Appworld CS to manually approve a refund… pass….

  5. I agree.. Not going to happen. Blackberry needs the revenue off app sales.

    • I thought so at first but especially with their push towards carrier billing they are barely making peanuts on app sales. On the other hand a limited app ecosystem is hurting their device sales which is where the money truly is for BlackBerry

  6. App World has been a joke since it launched.

  7. Like so many things BB. So much promised. So little delivered.

  8. there is Coupon codes in the latest app world~
    which os the deitior use?

    • There are coupon codes on the app but currently they are a dummy placeholder. It’s been two years and we still don’t have a feature that practically every single web store in the world has. The BlackBerry world team needs to get their $#i+ together

  9. BB should realize that Android compatibility should include Google Play (formerly called Market). This would be very welcome by Playbook users and current BB10 users and prospective BB10 buyers. Paid Android apps should work on all devices registered to a user.

    • This was my post yesterday. +1000000.

      Why is it so dammed hard for them to see that they would do way better if they just filled the app gap. Jesus it’s so obvious!!

  10. Another item in the loooooooooong list of things we can’t seem to do anymore. I have a dev friend that needs some beta stuff and in order to do updates you have to have time to sideload instead of the OTA on the go we could do previously. I know they (BB) say this is a marathon and not a sprint but they don’t seem to want to leave the gate but for a few steps. As a loooooong time Berry’er like most of us here its gets old listening to broken promise after broken promise. I could go on but I’m tired of talking about it honestly. Anyway, have a nice 4th USA readers.

  11. Sideloading? Are you serious?

  12. The problem with sideloading is this…

    If a similar bug is found in BB10, then you can only trust BBW, if that’s even possible given the pace at which they move.

    • Yeah, most people don’t realize just how far technology has come with these handy little things we carry around everywhere. The people who want to exploit them, however, DO know how far tech has come with these.

    • I understand that it opens up a security risk but by that same reasoning we should only be able to install windows store apps on a windows pc and so on. Only Apple has decided to totally close off their app environment and it’s one of the biggest complaints they get especially from devs.

      On top of that BlackBerry has a terrible record for stopping malicious hidden apps from being posted in BlackBerry world. So relying on BlackBerry World for security is a fools errand. By that same reasoning Google Play apps should also be ultra secure (which obviously is not the case) and the same has happened with iTunes even with their kgb policies.

      It all comes down to how much liberty you have to sacrifice for security. For now they are taking away a boatload of flexibility for a marginal improvement of security posture.

  13. Yes, it is ironic that I’m still using a legacy BlackBerry while having access to BB10 devices. One of the reason is a healthy app portfolio I’ve built with exceedingly useful apps. Aside from the money spent, precious few of those apps are available for BB10. (I check periodically.) And to make it worse, like the article says, there is a remarkably poor App Store experience at play. I was shocked at the poor quality when I first got a Playbook, and like the article says, the situation hasn’t improved. The legacy App World is still a far, far better experience.

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