The BlackBerry Passport screen is bigger than it looks

The BlackBerry Passport is due to be released this September, and the phone’s 4.5 inch screen is much bigger than it first appears to be. Mainly this is due to the fact that the Passport will have a square screen as opposed to the 16:9 ratio that dominates the industry. The tradition of measuring screen sizes based on the diagonal favors widescreen formats (and may be part of the reason that BlackBerry and Apple both moved their phones from 4:3 screen ratios to their current 16:9 rations). Measuring instead by area, the screen of the BlackBerry Passport is equivalent to a 4.9 inch widescreen phone.

passport

The table below compares the Passport to other BlackBerry phones, giving the area in square inches and then a comparison to the size of the Passport.

Phone Area
Passport 10.11 100%
Z30 10.68 106%
Z10 7.78 77%
Q10 4.79 47%
Bold 9900 3.76 37%
Torch 9800 4.92 49%

How to sideload apps onto WindowsRT devices

With WindowsRT Microsoft has made a bit of an odd platform that only accepts apps from the Windows store and does not provide a simple way to install any custom built apps. The easiest way to sideload an app onto a WindowsRT tablet is to set it up as a developer test device. Unfortunately this does require you to be able to log-in to a Microsoft developer account. Not only is this account not free, but you will be required to reconfirm your credentials every three months. Still this is far easier then the other options to sideload onto WindowsRT.

Step one:

First you need to find the Windows PowerShell app open it using the “Run as administrator” option. Then confirm yes at the UAC prompt. Open the keyboard to type Show-WindowsDeveloperLicenseRegistration and hit enter. Then agree to the prompt, and then log-in to your developer account.

Step two:

In Visual Studio create a Windows Store app in the same manner you would as if you were planning on releasing the app to the store. However once the executable is generated in the AppPackages folder, instead of uploading the .appxupload file find the similarly named test folder and transfer this whole folder onto your WindowsRT device. For WindowsRT devices without support for USB drives this is a challenge all on its own, where the best solution may be to email yourself a .zip file.

Step three:

Now with the folder on your WindowsRT tablet find the Add-AppDevPackage.ps1 file, touch and hold to bring up the right-click menu and select “Run with PowerShell”. Confirm that you do in fact want to open the file, and then follow the multiple prompts within PowerShell. Eventually the app will load be able to run the app as if you had installed it from the app store.

Physical Keyboard users still in the minority, but trending upwards

This past month the percentage of BlackBerry 10 users with a physical keyboard reached an all time high at 37.2% of the market. This number has been trending upwards for the past half year, and is only likely to accelerate when the BlackBerry Passport and Classic launch in the fall.

KeyboardsJun2014

Currently the BlackBerry 10 ecosystem is still dominated by the BlackBerry Z10 which accounts for 55.1% of BlackBerry 10 phones in use. The most popular keyboard device is the BlackBerry Q10, but the Q5 has also seen a sudden boost in popularity, after lagging behind the Z30 for most of its life.

Jun2014Devices

All of these statistics are based off of the data collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free check-list app Stuff I Need (which is now also available for Windows Phone and Android users).

Use of OS7 ticks up another percentage point

OS 7 now consists of 52% of the BBOS market. This is a very slow uptake when compared to BlackBerry 10, but at the same time it is continuing to inch forwards.

StatsJun2014

This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free BlackBerry strategy game Pixelated. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of June 2013 through the end of June 2014, and does not include BlackBerry 10 or PlayBook devices.

BlackBerry 10 OS distribution

BlackBerry 10 has seen a continuing slow uptake of newer OS versions in the month of June.

2014Jun-Pixelated-BB10OSVersions

2014June-StuffINeed-BB10OSVersions

Pixelated saw 86% of users on the newest OS version, while the Stuff I Need app had 92% of their users on the newest OS.

This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free strategy game Pixelated and the free checklist app Stuff I Need. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of June 2013 through the end of June 2014.

More levels for Runaway Trains

Level205Runaway Trains has been updated to version 2.7 adding an additional ten levels to the game. The game is now up to 210 total levels and is available on BlackBerry World, Google Play, Amazon AppStore, and the Nook bookstore.

About Runaway Trains

Runaway Trains is a colorful strategy game for all ages where you must route the trains to the proper station. Each level progresses in difficulty and presents an unique puzzle which you must solve by finding a way to guide the coloured trains causing a collision or running out of track.

This is done by touching the intersections to toggle the open path of the tracks. If at any time the trains crash or end up at the wrong station, you will have lost and have to try again.

Links & Information

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Android app on Google Play

Black Out updated for BlackBerry 10

IMG_20140624_104529Black Out has been updated to version 1.4.1 in BlackBerry World in order to ensure compatibility with devices running OS 10.3.1 (which will be released later this year). The PlayBook and Nook versions of the app do not require this update, and Android versions of the app have already been updated earlier this year.

How to Play

The goal to Black Out is to tap the tiles, so that they all get ‘blacked out’. This is complicated because whenever you tap to flip a tile, it also flips all of the tiles surrounding it. As such it requires a well laid out strategy.

In order to accommodate different difficulties, the game supports board sizes from 3×3 all the way up to a 10×10 grid. Furthermore, there is also a hint button in case you find yourself in need of help.

Links & Information

An intro to the Amazon Appstore

As BlackBerry prepares to have the Amazon appstore preinstalled on their phones, I have already had my apps in the Amazon store for two years now.

First of all the best place to have your apps is in BlackBerry AppWorld. If you are writing a native Cascades app, there is no choice except to sell your apps through the BlackBerry store. If you are selling an app based on a cross platform framework such as Cordova or Unity you are better off compiling that code natively to a .bar file as it will run much better then packaging the same code as an Android app. If you have a native Android app, then you are still better off compiling to a .bar file and submitting the app to BlackBerry World. Taking this extra step makes the app easier for users to update and also gives developers the possibility of removing the back bar from apps.

However, simply having the ability to sell to Amazon’s own tablets and phones is enough reason reason to submit your apps into the store.

amazon

For the most part the Amazon store is pretty similar to what all other platforms offer with developers getting a 70% cut of all sales. Payments are made out to developers via direct deposit to a bank account. All apps are submitted as .apk files and like Android apps on BlackBerry, they must not be dependent upon any Google Play services. All apps submitted to the Amazon Appstore require a minimum of three screenshots (at one of a few specific resolutions), and are subjected to a rather comprehensive review policy. App reviews typically take around five days, with rejections usually a case of including a reference to the Google Play store (including something as simple as a link to your other Android apps).

The high praise that BlackBerry has given the Amazon store is mostly marketing fluff. The truth of the matter is that nobody cares about Amazon coins, and this store really isn’t all that different than all of the others…

Oswego Canal app released

IMG_20140617_132302Adding to the set of New York State canal apps, an app for helping to navigate the Oswego Canal has been released to BlackBerry World and Google Play.

Similar to the apps for the Erie Canal, and Cayuga-Seneca Canal that have been released earlier this year, this is an app that gives you the ability to see the locations of all locks and boat launches along the canal. Additionally the app also contains a map view to give a visual representation to where everything is.

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Stuff I Need now on Android

nexusScropThe Stuff I Need app is now available on Android through the Google Play store. This app gives you a simple checklist in order to mark of the stuff you need to buy or the stuff that you need to do.

About Stuff I Need

Originally conceived as a grocery list app, this minimalistic checklist app can be used to keep track of the stuff you need to get, or the stuff that you need to do. New items can be added to list with the ‘Add’ button on the bottom of the screen. Items on the list can be edited (or deleted) by giving them a long press. Lists can be switched by pulling down on the tab at the top of the screen. This will expose a spinner that shows all of your current lists. New lists can be added by using the “+” button on the right side of the expanded tab. Making use of three or more lists requires the use on a one time in-app purchase. Lists are automatically deleted if you delete all items in a list and restart the app.

Links & Information

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BlackBerry 10 Statistics

The month of May saw rather modest gains in the uptake of newer OS versions on BlackBerry 10.

2014May-Pixelated-BB10OSVersions

2014May-StuffINeed-BB10OSVersions

There was very little change among users of the Stuff I Need app, while there was a small increase in the percentage of Pixelated users on the newest OS version. Meanwhile relativity few users are running OS 10.3, with the newest leak being far less popular then 10.2 was half a year ago.

This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free strategy game Pixelated and the free checklist app Stuff I Need. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of May 2013 through the end of May 2014.

OS7 exceeds 50% of BBOS marketshare

For the first month ever, March showed a majority of classic BBOS users running OS 7 on their phones. While the majority of BlackBerry 10 users have usually updated in the first month after the release of a new operating system, OS 7 has now been out for 34 months…

StatsMay2014

The most popular BBOS device in the month of May was the Curve 9320.

This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free BlackBerry strategy game Pixelated. Data shown on the chart is from the beginning of May 2013 through the end of May 2014, and does not include BlackBerry 10 or PlayBook devices.

Mileage Tracker app updated

IMG_20140531_150152The Mileage Tracker app has been updated to version 1.7 in BlackBerry World. This update makes it easier to switch between a large number of categories, and ensure that the app will continue to work well once OS 10.3 is released later this year. The app has also received a 16.7% reduction in file size. Additionally, for users of OS 10.3 or higher Mileage Tracker has extended it’s custom color scheme through all of the native controls in the app.

About Mileage Tracker

Mileage tracker is a free app designed to help you track the miles you drive on each trip, so that you can use this information for tax deductions, accounting, or employee reimbursements. Instead of keeping this information charted on your computer, it makes much more sense to be able to track this directly on your phone, which you normally would have with you in the car already.

Trips can be grouped into categories, and edited (or deleted) at a later date. Following a one time in-app payment, you can also export your data into an Excel compatible .csv format and a pretty (and sortable) .html format.

Links & Information

Adding Cascades highlight colors (without losing the ability to theme 10.2)

PinkWith the release of BlackBerry 10.3 later this year Cascades apps will have the ability to set a custom highlight color. While this is typically defined in the bar-descriptor.xml file, doing so will prevent any theme from being applied when the app is run on phones running an older operating system. Fortunately there is a workaround. (Thanks to Derek Konigsberg for pointing out how to do this).

In short you can override the CASCADES_THEME environmental variable in the brief window between the app being launched, and the creation of the app’s UI. The following code sets a dark theme with pink highlights when run on OS 10.3 and sets a simplier dark theme for older OS versions.

Q_DECL_EXPORT int main(int argc, char **argv)
{
    bb::platform::PlatformInfo p_info;
    QString ver = p_info.osVersion();

    if(ver.startsWith("10.0") || ver.startsWith("10.1") || ver.startsWith("10.2"))
    {
        qputenv("CASCADES_THEME", "dark");
    }
    else
    {
        qputenv("CASCADES_THEME",
            "dark?primaryColor=0xF04FFF");
    }

    Application app(argc, argv);
    MileageTrackerApp mainApp(&app);
    return Application::exec();
}

The recently updated Mileage Tracker app (pictured above) is an example of an app that is using this technique.

New app for the Cayuga-Seneca Canal

IMG_20140529_152107A new app has been published to BlackBerry World, Google Play, and the Amazon App Store in order to help users navigate down the Cayuga-Seneca Canal.

Similar to the Erie Canal app that was released in April, this new app gives you the ability to see the locations of all locks and boat launches along the canal. With an additional map view to give a visual representation to where everything is.

Links & Information

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