Call-A-Human featured in BlackBerry AppWorld

This week our Call-A-Human application is being featured in BlackBerry AppWorld.

he application allows you to easily call straight to a customer service person at hundreds of companies. The application also includes a built in search field, and integrates with universal search on BlackBerry devices running OS6. The original post has more on the application, including a speed comparison.

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Why the Bold 9000 is not a priority

Yesterday CrackBerry posted a review of Xploding Boxes, and the first comment asked why the Bold 9000 was not supported. The reason that the 9000 is not yet supported is because as a developer this model is simply not a priority.

The Bold 9000 is one of the most loved BlackBerry models, but is almost 3 years old at this point. As such it now accounts for less then 2% of all BlackBerrys on the market (down from 5% last summer). Furthermore for many newer applications (like Xploding Boxes) a minimum OS of 5.0 is required while only 43% of Bold 9000 users have upgraded past OS 4.6 which leaves the potential market share even lower.

Neither does it just happen to be supported as it has a screen that is only 320 pixels tall, making development for it almost always a special case compared to the 360 pixels that the 8900, 9630, 9650, 9700, and 9780 all have. Even the smaller BlackBerry Curves are an easier case to handle as their smaller resolution is exactly two thirds the resolution, which at least makes the math simple.

All of this adds up to the Bold 9000 being a model that developers can no longer afford to view as being a high priority. Not that it won’t ever be supported, but that it isn’t always worth the effort.

In defense of RIM and the PlayBook

Over the past week, a narrative has taken hold in which it has become fashionable to refer to the BlackBerry PlayBook as “vaporware”. This line of thinking comes mainly from Jim Dalrymple and has been further popularized by the normally respectable John Gruber. This is inaccurate on so many levels that I feel it is necessary to take a moment to defend RIM and the PlayBook.

First of all the PlayBook is not even late. From day one, RIM has said that the PlayBook would ship in Q1 of 2011, and unless April comes around without it being released, there is no weight to criticizing RIM for shipping the device late. Sure I (and many others) had hoped for a mid-February launch, but given what I have seen of the PlayBook’s progress so far I see no reason why a Q1 release would not be possible. (Right now I think that a March 22 release is probable). RIM is certainly cutting it close, but that is no reason to imply that they are not living up to their word. However even if the PlayBook does get delayed referring to it as “vaporware” is still inaccurate, as RIM has shown more then enough of it that there is no doubt that the product will come to market.

The second criticism is that RIM keeps announcing different configurations of the PlayBook, without having shipped any. To date RIM has announced 4 configurations, (Wi-Fi only, WiMAX, LTE, and HSPA+). Dalrymple refers to this as “three generations” despite the fact that such a description ignores all of the meaning behind the word. Given that this was the way that Apple’s first generation iPad was released, you would assume that an Apple focused blog would understand that, but apparently not.

The final criticism is in the large delay between announcing the tablet, and actually shipping it. However in this case RIM had no other option. The BlackBerry PlayBook launches with a brand new operating system, and as such needed to announce the device significantly ahead of time in order to give developers a chance to ready applications for the device. Last summer when RIM announced the BlackBerry Torch, it was in stores just 9 days later. Despite being a brand new form-factor and shipping with a new OS this quick turnaround was not a problem for developers because all previous code still worked. The same went for the launch of the original iPad, and various Android tablets. However with a 100% new OS RIM needed a longer lead time between announcing and shipping the product.

20 new levels for Xploding Boxes

This weekend Xploding Boxes has been updated to version 1.1 adding levels 101-120 to the game.

About Xploding Boxes

Xploding Boxes (also known as Exploding Boxes) is a strategy game for BlackBerry where the goal of the game is to start a chain reaction that will explode all of the boxes on the screen. Each level gives you a different number of clicks, and requires a different strategy to solve. The first 25 levels are free, while the rest of the levels can be accessed by making an in-application payment.

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Adding the ® and ™

Curious thing I have noticed. In the description for Xploding Boxes at BlackBerry AppWorld, originally ended by saying…

In order to make this in-app purchase you must have version 2.1 of BlackBerry AppWorld installed.

However before the application was approved it was changed to…

In order to make this in-app purchase you must have version 2.1 of BlackBerry® AppWorld™ installed.

So no real change, but apparently RIM’s lawyers thought it was necessary. Personally however, I think that adding these (essentially meaningless) marks just clutters up the text.

What I want to see from BlackBerry OS 6.1

BlackBerry 6.1 is coming out this summer. However besides the API’s that correspond to new hardware elements such as NFC and the magnetometers, there have not really been much in the way of news of what this new OS will provide to developers. The following is what I hope to see.

  1. Integrated Payment and Advertising SDKs – While it was needed in order to get these SDKs released earlier, having to bundle the Advertising and Payment SDKs with your application is inefficient. Given that RIM has included a form of the Payment SDK in the PlayBook ActionScript SDK makes this seem likely.
  2. Regular Expressions – The reason BlackBerry does not currently have RegEx support is based off of the way it evolved out of J2ME. However given how standalone (and useful) regular expressions are, RIM should find a way to add these APIs. There is no reason to think that the core J2ME is ever going to be updated to include this.
  3. Simplified StreamConnection – Having to choose between wi-fi and cellular connections is still more complex then it should be. I would like to let the OS choose how to download the data, instead of having to pick and choose connections manually.

10,000 Farkle updated to version 1.3

10,000 Farkle which recently celebrated its first anniversary has now been updated to version 1.3 in BlackBerry AppWorld. 10,000 Farkle is a dice game that requires both skill and luck. Points are awarded for various dice combinations, but if a roll fails to contain any combinations the turn ends with no points awarded.

New in Version 1.3

In this new version of Farkle is added improved support for devices running OS 6.0 and crisper graphics for all users. Additionally the installed file size has once again been reduced, in addition to a few other minor improvements.

How to Play

Farkle gives you six dice to roll and awards points for a straight, three pairs or three or more of the same number. Fewer points ares also awarded for each individual 1 and 5. Any dice that do not score can be re-rolled for additional points. If all 6 dice can be scored, all of the dice can be re-rolled on the same turn.

The skill in this game comes from knowing how far to push your luck, and which scoring combinations to take, and which to re-roll.

The default game mode gives you 10 turns to score as many points as you can. The 10,000 point mode is the traditional way to play, where the goal is to reach 10,000 points in as few turns as possible. The two competitive game modes “vs Friend” and “vs Computer” both use the traditional race to 10,000 points.

Supported Devices

10,000 Farkle requires a minimum OS of 4.6 and supports the 8330, 8350i, 8520, 8530, 8900, 9000, 9300, 9330, 9500, 9520, 9530, 9550, 9630, 9650, 9700, 9780, and 9800.

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Xploding Boxes

Xploding Boxes (also known as Exploding Boxes) is a strategy game for BlackBerry that was released this weekend on BlackBerry AppWorld. The goal of the game is to start a chain reaction that will explode all of the boxes on the screen. Each level gives you a different number of clicks, and requires a different strategy to solve. The first 25 levels are free, while the rest of the levels can be accessed by making an in-application payment.

The Xploding Boxes starts with five levels unlocked, and every time you beat a level, an additional level is unlocked. The end result of this is that if you ever get stuck, you can usually just skip ahead to the next level, because there are always a few that are unlocked.

In-application payments

The game can be download for free with the first 25 levels available at no cost at all. Access to the remaining levels can then be gained by making a one time in-application purchase. This is done using the brand new In-Application payment API that was recently added. By using this when you upgrade to the full game, you do not lose any of the progress that you had already gained up to that point. This also requires that you have version 2.1 or higher of BlackBerry AppWorld installed.

Future Updates

The plan is to continue to release additional content and levels for this game. Version 1.1 of Xploding Boxes will add levels 101-120 and will be released by the end of February.

Device Support

Xploding Boxes requires a minimum OS of 5.0 and supports the 8520, 8530, 8900, 9300, 9330, 9500, 9520, 9530, 9550, 9630, 9650, 9700, 9780, and 9800. Gaining access to all levels requires that you have version 2.1 or higher of BlackBerry AppWorld installed in order to make use of the in-application payment API.

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BlackBerry users still not upgrading to OS 6

Like the upgrade rates to OS 5, there is little change since last month in the rate of users who have upgraded to OS 6. This new operating system was first released for the BlackBerry Torch about half a year ago, but of those with devices that were promised the upgrade, well over 90% of users are still on OS 5.0 instead.


Device % at OS 6
91xx 1.1%
9300 1.3%
9330 7.8%
9650 5.1%
9700 3.3%


While these numbers have improved slightly, they are far lower then they should be. The leader is the 9330 which benefited from Verizon finally beginning to push OS 6 in the second half of January. However at the current rate it looks likely that OS 6.1 will be released before these rates hit 50%.

This data comes from January downloads of Pixelated, the second most popular game in BlackBerry AppWorld.

Pixelated Plus for BlackBerry PlayBook

First announced in December, Pixelated Plus will be released for the BlackBerry PlayBook when the tablet launches in the next few weeks. The application includes all of the features currently found in the smartphone version Pixelated Plus, and adds the additional option of a super-micro grid size along with three new achievements to go along with it.

Converting Pixelated Plus from a BlackBerry Java application to a PlayBook ActionScript application took 14 hours and 37 minutes.

OS 5 adoption unchanged since November

For two straight months now the rate of upgrades to OS 5.0 has remained unchanged. January’s rates of OS 5 use on the devices that can be upgraded from OS 4.x are almost unchanged from November, and in a few cases even down. Given this stability it seems unlikely to expect any further change in these numbers in the future. (The overall use of OS 5 or higher has continued to increased as RIM is no longer selling devices with OS 4.6 or 4.7).


Device OS 4.X OS 5.0
8350i 89.3% 10.7%
8520 51.4% 48.6%
8900 55.7% 44.3%
9000 57.0% 43.0%
9500 46.6% 53.4%
9530 10.7% 89.3%
9630 11.5% 88.5%


This data comes from January downloads of Pixelated, the second most popular game in BlackBerry AppWorld.

Remove advertising in version 2.4 of the Hockey Scores BlackBerry Application

The Hockey Scores application has been updated to version 2.4 adding the ability to use an in application purchase to remove advertising, and improvements to getting data over wi-fi connections. Also support for keyboard shortcuts was recently added in version 2.3 of the application.

Remove Advertising

The Hockey Scores application now gives the option to make a one time payment of 99¢ in order to permanently remove all advertising in the application. This takes advantage of the new APIs available in version 2.1 of BlackBerry AppWorld in order to allow the purchase to be made inside of the application. This option will be shown in both the menu, and on the about page, but only to those users running BlackBerry AppWorld 2.1 or higher.

Device Support

Hockey Scores supports all BlackBerry Devices with OS 4.6 or higher, but version 2.4 is limited to devices running OS 5.0 or higher.

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Liar’s Dice updated to version 1.2

Liar’s Dice has been updated to version 1.2 with better OS 6 support, crisper graphics and a smaller file size.

About Liar’s Dice

This application is a dice game of strategy and deception in which seeing only your own dice you must bet on the combined dice in play without getting caught in a lie. The game is popular in many different cultures and is also known by the names Perudo, Dudo, or Cachito.

The object of the game is to catch your opponent (the computer) betting too high. Bets are placed on both your own dice which you can see, and your opponent’s dice which are hidden from you. You begin each round by making a bet. The computer then has an opportunity to either call your bet a lie, or to bet higher then you. Then it is once again your turn to call your opponent’s bet or to bet even higher. This continues until eventually a bet is called. Then if the bet is too high the caller wins, or if the bet is not a lie, the bettor wins the round.

The game has two main game modes. The “High Score” mode is the default mode, points are awarded for each round, and the first to gain a given number of points wins. The amount of points that the game plays to can be selected from the options page, allowing for shorter or longer games.

The second game mode is an “Elimination” mode in which the loser of each round loses one dice for the following rounds, and the last player with any dice left is the winner. This game is more dynamic as there are a different number of dice in play each round. Additionally these games in this mode typically play faster than high score games.

Improvements in Version 1.2

This version adds improved support device running OS 6.0 making use of some new API’s that are available in the newer operating system.

The graphics have also been cleaned up a bit on all devices, giving the images a crisper look. Also the overall file size of the application has decreased for all devices by an average of 17.7%.

Video

Device Support

Version 1.2 of Liars Dice requires OS 5.0+ and supports the 8350i, 8520, 8530, 8900, 9000, 9300, 9330, 9500, 9520, 9530, 9550, 9630, 9650, 9700, 9780, and 9800.

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