I admit to being a purist. I prefer native apps to Android ports. Built for BlackBerry apps give me the best user experience on my Z30, but apps that have been ported into BlackBerry world are a close second. Android apps? I was reluctant to use them at first, worried about battery drain or security loopholes, but I’ve mellowed out a bit with time. As a rule, I don’t download an Android app if there is a BlackBerry version available. I have the Amazon app store installed on my phone, and it’s pretty nice, if rarely used. There are, however, three Android apps that I am unwilling to live without: Waze, the Starbucks app, and Netflix. [Read more…]
Once in awhile the universe surprises you with something so wonderful, there are no words for it. Then again, I make my living with words so I’m going to find them. I belong to some fantastic groups on BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). One of them, Team Z30 is a group of people from around the world who chat about pretty much everything. Yes, we are all using BlackBerry devices but we talk about our regular lives as often as we do about devices and upgrades and technological stuff. The members of the group have become like family to me – I worry about them when they’re going through stuff, I enjoy hearing how their day is going, and occasionally, I want to give some of them a good swift kick in the rear.
With all the hubbub recently about Facebook Messenger and the myriad of permissions it requests just to be able to run in the background, I was curious as to what permissions I have given some of the apps on my BlackBerry Z30. (Okay, the real reason I wanted to know is that I accidentally connected an app to BBM after an update and didn’t want to leave it connected but also didn’t want to delete it and reinstall it if I didn’t have to – Once again, my mistakes become blog fodder.)
When I said that I would blog about Blaq later, I didn’t think it would be later today. I am at BlackBerry Live in Orlando next week and I’m not bringing my laptop so I figured I should probably write the review sooner rather than later.
From day 1 with my Z10, I was frustrated by the native Twitter client (Twitter for BlackBerry). I realize that it is as functional as Twitter for Android and Twitter for iOS, but I’ve been spoiled with Twitter for BlackBerry 7. I expected the Twitter client on the BlackBerry 10 devices to be just as functional, and when it wasn’t I was disappointed. I tried a number of other Twitter clients in the first two months I had my Z10: Tweetings, Neatly, RewitQ, and Twitter for BlackBerry 10. Each of them had some advantages but they were either too slow, too frustrating to use, or missing key features (like lists).
As many of you know, I’m a Twitter junkie. I need a fairly robust application to use on a daily basis. One of my favourite features on Twitter is the ability to sort your followers into lists and follow those lists. I follow over 1600 people on twitter, and, though I do Twitter purges on a regular basis where I unfollow accounts that are no longer relevant to me, it can still be a lot to handle. Lists allow me sort the people I follow into groups such as “Formula 1 fans”, “CFL” , and “Journalists” and only follow those streams when I’m feeling overwhelmed. For example, Monday May 6th was the CFL draft and though I love all my tweeps, I was trying to keep up with the draft picks as they happened. I opened Twitter on my laptop, went to lists, and selected my football list. Everything else in my stream disappeared and I could pretend that the world outside of football had melted away for awhile. None of the apps I had on my Z10 before Blaq allowed me to follow lists easily.
Aside from Lists, the other features that I want in a Twitter application are, in order of importance to me:
- Multiple Account Support (preferably 3)
- The ability to quote Tweets when retweeting
- The ability to Mute hashtags (Sometimes, I just don’t want to hear about #PeopleIWantToPunch)
- Real time refresh rate.
It’s not a huge or particularly demanding list, yet until Blaq was released no single Twitter application for BlackBerry 10 had all the features I wanted. Right now Blaq only allows you to have 2 accounts but I’ve heard that support for 3 is coming and I still have the other applications so the accounts I use less frequently are set up on those.
Blaq is relatively easy to use. When you first download it, you need to authorize it to access your twitter account, this is pretty standard. Once you’ve done this the screen will pull in your account and change to the main screen. The main screen looks like this:
The green bar at the top is called the timeline progress bar and fills up as you get closer to the newest tweets in your stream. The clock on the green bar shows the time of the tweet you’re on while the clock in the top right shows the current time.
From the main screen, it takes a quick swipe to navigate within the app. Swiping right gets you the most options:
To make it easier to understand what each of these options are, I’ve numbered them.
- Mute: Allows you to mute a person or a hashtag. This can be helpful if there is a twitter party going on and you’re not participating. Selecting this option and then “add mute” on the next screen brings up a page where you can enter your criteria for what you want muted. You can also un-mute from this screen.
- Search: Lets you search Twitter for a username or hashtag. Blaq imports saved searches but you can delete them at any time.
- Me: takes you to your profile page. You can see your followers, who is following you, how many tweets you’ve tweeted, and lots of other fun stuff.
- Favourites: When you favourite a tweet, they are marked with a star. You can find them again later by selecting this option.
- Lists – All of your twitter lists are here. Currently, you can’t edit lists from Blaq but if that changes, I will let you know!
- Retweets – These are tweets of yours that have been retweeted.
- Direct Messages – you can read and compose direct messages from here.
- Mentions – these are all of your @ replies.
- Home – this takes you back to your whole twitter feed.
- Compose – Tap this to compose a new tweet.
When you swipe down from the top of the screen, you get a much smaller menu: Accounts lets you add another account or switch between accounts, while Settings allows you to change the font size, set the refresh rate while the app is inactive, and access the tutorial again by selecting Help.
Finally, swiping left allows you to access options directly related to the tweet you are viewing. This is the action that is the least intuitive in Blaq. To access this menu, touch a tweet and then pull left. While holding the menu open, pull the list up or down to access the different options.
- Allows you to reply to the tweet.
- Allows you to retweet the tweet to your followers. (By default the app will confirm that this is an action you want to do)
- Marks the tweet as a favourite (again, the default is set to confirm that you want to favourite the tweet)
- Options. If the tweet is one that you sent, you can delete it from here.
Earlier, I mentioned that one of my “must have” features in a twitter app is the ability to quote tweets. You need to select the tweet by tapping it so that it opens up in its own screen. When the tweet is isolated, touch and hold the retweet button (Circled in red below), and select the Middle option “Quote Retweet”.
- Classic retweet – a nice and simple way to retweet
- Quote – puts the item you are retweeting in quotes – useful if you’re going to modify the tweet in any way.
- Retweet via – a type of retweet I’m beginning to use a lot more often – great for websites – takes the text of the tweet and then at the end puts (via @username). It’s a stylistic choice but one that I quite enjoy.
One last thing about Blaq. By default, Blaq connects itself to BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). You get an option on every tweet and retweet to send the message as your BBM status or share it with BBM contacts. I don’t like that option, and so I turned it off. To do this is a little tricky though. You need to go to the Settings menu on your BlackBerry (it looks like a cog) –> Security and Privacy –>Application Permissions –>Blaq and switch “Connect to BBM” to off.
In a nutshell, that’s Blaq for BlackBerry 10. Have you tried Blaq for BlackBerry 10 yet? What do you think of it?
It’s been awhile – I’ve been busy with life and spending far too much time with my BlackBerry Z10. The advantage of spending so much time with my Z10 is that I have a shortlist of the “Can’t miss Apps” for BlackBerry 10. These are my favourite apps, the ones I use on a daily basis.
1) Password Keeper – This app was standard on earlier BlackBerry devices, and is a free download for the Z10. It has all the functionality that I wrote about here but is on your BlackBerry 10 Device.
2) BlackBerry Messenger – Another old standard but one that I use daily to keep in touch with friends and family. It’s just so convenient. The Video chat feature on BlackBerry 10 devices allows you to do more than simply type to your contacts, you can actually see them and have a face to face conversation.
3) BlackBerry Remember – I had my doubts on how useful Remember would be. I was so wrong. I use it every single day. It’s better than any other notepad app I’ve used. It allows you to flag emails and put them into a file folder within the Remember App, but more than that, it allows you to add photos, videos, voice notes, and documents to the folder.
I have a BlackBerry Live folder and my airline tickets, hotel confirmation, event schedule, and hotel shuttle emails are all inside that folder so that I can easily find them as I need them.You can assign due dates to items within a folder and never forget a deadline again. You can also pull in contacts so if you are working on a project with a co-worker, you will have their contact info alongside all the information for the project. The BlackBerry video about Remember gives a pretty awesome overview of this amazing app.
4) CrackBerry 10 – I admit it, I’m a CrackBerry addict. I was going to the website a couple of times a day to keep up with the latest BlackBerry news. The CrackBerry 10 app for BlackBerry 10 allows me to catch up on the latest news and reviews in a really nicely designed and user friendly manner. To access the category feature simply tap the CB home button at the bottom of the screen in the app:
Once you do that, you will be greeted with a list of categories – I tend to read everything but if you only want to read reviews, it can be really helpful to go straight to the reviews category. My favourite thing about the CrackBerry 10 app is that it’s built for BlackBerry. I have nothing against Android ports but they don’t always work in quite the same way that apps built specifically for the BlackBerry 10 platform.
5) Blaq – The native Twitter app on the BlackBerry 10 operating system is not as good as the version I had on my Bold 9900. I use Twitter a lot and needed something better. I have used Blaq on my PlayBook, so when it was released for the BlackBerry 10 in late April, I eagerly downloaded it. It took a little getting used to and I’m still discovering little gems like the ability to quote tweets. (You can only do it from inside the tweet itself, not from the main screen) I will do a full post on Blaq soon for all my Twitter addicted friends who need a solid app that works well and is stable
6) Podcasts – I’m late to the podcast party, but I love listening to them as I walk around town. I had a few different Podcast apps on my Bold 9900 but my favourite wasn’t available for the BlackBerry Z10. After consulting some of my fellow BlackBerry Elite members, I downloaded Podcasts for BlackBerry 10. I love how easy and intuitive the app is to use. It also doesn’t drain my battery the way other podcast apps have. The selection of podcasts in the app is pretty good but you can search and manually add your favourite podcasts within the menu if they aren’t on the list. The only complaint I’ve heard is from my friend Nick who listens to a lot of podcasts while riding his bike to and from work – he would like a feature that skips back 5 or 10 seconds in the podcast when you restart after a pause, so that you don’t miss anything. I agree it would enhance the app but even without that feature, the app is head and shoulders above any other podcast app for BlackBerry 10.
These are my favourite (non game) apps so far. I’m going to be testing BlackBerry Travel next week as I journey to BlackBerry Live, and I will let you know how it works on BlackBerry 10 afterwards.
What are your favourite BlackBerry 10 apps? What app do you really want to see on the platform?