Category Archives: BlackBerry

Update to free Animal Sounds app

z10The free Animal Sounds app has been updated to version 1.2 in BlackBerry World. This update reduces the size of the app, adds support for a swipe-down menu, and improves the app’s support for the higher resolution of the BlackBerry Passport.

About the Animal Sounds App

This is a simple app that plays back the sound made by various animals. From Horses to Dogs to Cows, this app includes a variety of animals that will make a sound when you tap on their picture.

Links & Information

BlackBerry has now gone a full year without pushing an OS update

One year ago today BlackBerry released OS 10.2.1 as an update for all BlackBerry 10 phones. Since then BlackBerry has developed both OS 10.3.0 and 10.3.1 but have yet to release these updates for an in-market phones.

IMG_20150128_034457

Originally the current devices were expected to get a new OS in November, but that has been continually delayed. Instead BlackBerry has allowed their new user base to become fragmented and have begun driving customers towards downloading leaked OS versions. Based on statistics collected from users of my apps, I am seeing the most people running leaked OS versions than I have since 2009. BlackBerry needs to get it together, and push out OS 10.3.1 to their full user base.

New Head Words game released for BlackBerry

ShapeItAppHead Words is a new free party game for BlackBerry 10. This is a multi-player guessing game similar to Celebrity, Hedbanz, and Heads Up. After selecting a category, one player places the phone on their forehead while the other players give clues. With one minute to guess as many words as possible, the player can tilt the phone down for each correct answer, or tilt the phone up to pass. At the end of round a word list will show what was guessed right and wrong. The swipe down menu provides an option to turn the sound on or off.

The game includes five categories for free, and the option to purchase access to five additional categories for a dollar each. An update will bring even more categories to the game in the future.

Links & Information

480X

Expanded device support for 10,000 Farkle

Q10-deviceThe game 10,000 Farkle has gotten updated to version 2.5 in BlackBerry World. This update adds support for the recently released BlackBerry Passport and BlackBerry Classic while also reducing the file size of the app by 2.5 percent.

How to Play Farkle

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, then 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 when to re-roll.

The default game mode gives you 10 turns to score as many points as you can. The 10,000 point mode gives you unlimited turns to reach 10,000 points. The two competitive game modes both use the traditional format of racing to 10,000 points.

Links & Information

icon

BlackBerry likely to be sold within the next year

Last week rumors swirled around that Samsung would be acquiring BlackBerry. Both companies were quick to deny this news, yet it feels as if it is only a matter of time until BlackBerry is sold to a larger company.

Yesterday BlackBerry’s stock price closed at $10.24 per share which is close to a two year high. While this will make an acquisition more expensive, it also makes for a more attractive story for companies looking to add expand. Since joining as CEO with the stock price in the $7 range, John Chen will be able to show a sale at $15+ as a huge win for him. His action over the past year has been to eliminate the parts of the company that are less attractive to potential buyers in order to make BlackBerry easier to sell. This progress for the shareholders has largely come at the expense of BlackBerry’s users and developers. I understand why Chen has gone in this direction, but I really wish that things had gone in a different direction.

The end result is that BlackBerry is poised to sell.

Regardless if BlackBerry is purchased by Samsung, Lenovo, IBM, SAP, Amazon, or somebody else, I fully expect BlackBerry to be sold off within the next year. I just hope that the BlackBerry user base is not left behind…

BBOS usage is flat

BBOS usage was flat for another month. December saw 55.6% of users were on OS 7 and 80.0% of users were on OS 6 or higher.

StatsDec2014

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 December 2013 through the end of December 2014, and does not include BlackBerry 10 or PlayBook devices.

BlackBerry 10 platform becoming more fragmented

Last month BlackBerry unveiled OS 10.3.1 yet allowed very few of their users to download and install the new operating system. This is beginning to lead to a very fragmented landscape as very few users are on the newest version of the OS, and most users are actually two versions back on an operating system that by the end of the month, will be over a year old.

In slightly better news, over 99% of users are now running OS 10.1 or higher. Additionally, users of leaked OS versions have propped up the usage of OS 10.3.X beyond just those that have purchased the Classic or the Passport.

2014Dec-Pixelated-BB10OSVersions

2014Dec-StuffINeed-BB10OSVersions

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 December 2013 through the end of December 2014.

Liar’s Dice game adds support for the Passport and Classic

2.2.Q10Liar’s Dice has been updated to version 2.4 in BlackBerry World in order to add support for the newly released BlackBerry Passport and BlackBerry Classic phones.

About Liar’s Dice

This is a classic 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 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.

IMG_00000051The 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 number of points required to win a game can be configured on the options page in order to allow for shorter or longer games.

The other option is for 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 games in this mode typically play faster than high score games.

Links & Information

More levels for Xploding Boxes

Nexus4Xploding Boxes has been updated to version 5.1 with 10 all new levels. In addition to the new levels, this update includes some bug fixes for the Android and BlackBerry 10 versions of the app, custom highlight colors on BlackBerry 10.3, official support for the Amazon Fire TV Stick, as well as updating to the newest in-app purchase API’s for the Google Play store. The app also continues to support classic BBOS, Windows 8.1, and the Barnes and Noble Nook.

About Xploding Boxes

Xploding Boxes is a strategy game where the goal is to start a chain reaction that will explode all of the boxes on the screen. Each level presents a different look and number of touches, requiring a different strategy to solve.

The game itself, and the first 25 levels are available for free, while a one time in-app purchase can be used to access the rest of the levels for just $2.99 while still maintaining your progress from the free levels.

Links & Information

BBOS users don’t appear eager to update

One of the reasons I am a bit pessimistic about how well the soon to be released BlackBerry Classic will sell is that BlackBerry is positioning this phone as an upgrade for users still running BlackBerry OS. Yet I have seen how slow these customers have been to update their existing BBOS phones.

Following the release of BlackBerry 10 there has been very little motion in the BBOS user group. As of last month 21.2% of BBOS users were running OS 5.0 (or older) on what is now very outdated hardware. The most powerful of these phones are the Bold 9700 and Storm 9550 which were both released over five years ago and still do not have a webkit based browser. Use of OS 6 is not going away either as only slightly over half of all BBOS users are running OS 7 on their phones.

For as much as BlackBerry keeps talking about the need to transition BlackBerry 7 users, they also need to worry about upgrading BlackBerry 5 users as well.

StatsNovember2014

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 November 2013 through the end of November 2014, and does not include BlackBerry 10 or PlayBook devices.

BlackBerry Z10 accounts for less than half of active BB10 phones for the first time ever

The month of November saw the BlackBerry Z10 being used by 49.8% of active BlackBerry 10 users. This marks the first time since it launched, that the Z10 has accounted for less than half of all BlackBerry 10 phones. Still it has over twice as many users as the Q10 which is currently the second most popular phone.

Nov2014Devices

The BlackBerry Passport (the newest phone from BlackBerry) rose slightly from last month, and now accounts for one out of every 20 BlackBerry 10 phones.

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

Most BlackBerry users still waiting for OS 10.3

BlackBerry originally planned to have all their phones updated to OS 10.3.x by the end of November, however for most users this update has been delayed. Still with increased BlackBerry Passport sales, and a number of users running leaked OS versions, the number of users running 10.3 was up a bit from last month.

2014Nov-Pixelated-BB10OSVersions

2014Nov-StuffINeed-BB10OSVersions

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 November 2013 through the end of November 2014.

The BlackBerry Classic is both a distraction and a step backwards

The BlackBerry Classic is a device that many people are waiting for. It is the first new BlackBerry phone in over over three years to include the ‘toolbelt’ row of buttons across the middle. For anyone looking forwards to this phone, they are soon to be very disappointed.

classicBlackBerry 10 is very different from the old BlackBerry OS (and that is a good thing). With 2015 just around the corner, there is no longer any utility to be gained from the buttons that the toolbelt adds to the phone. Let’s address them one at a time.

First up is the send/call key. Even on BBOS this key did very little, and was only used for answering or starting phone calls. Five years ago when I got my first BlackBerry there was little use for this key, and given that next to nobody makes phone calls these days, this key is even more useless.

Next up is the menu key, which is arguably the most useful of the toolbelt keys. Having a physical menu key allows the screen to remain clear of any navigation, and makes it quick and easy for the menu to be accessed at any time. For most apps I expect this key to be equivalent to hitting the ‘more’ button on the action menu. However as both Cascades and Android based apps have had to exist for a few years now without any guarantee of a physical menu button, most apps will already be showing a virtual menu button on the screen anyhow.

The back button is in a similar situation of the menu key in that it was a solid idea, but given the current state of app development has become redundant to an on-screen back button that is now unlikely to go away. Given that BlackBerry 10 didn’t replicate the iOS/Android mistake of placing these controls on the top of the screen, they can be easily accessed without the hardware buttons.

The final key is the end button which is used for ending phone calls and exiting to the homescreen. My guess is that BlackBerry will just map this to be equivalent to the swipe-up gesture, not adding any new functionality.

Of course the real excitement over the BlackBerry Classic is the return of the trackpad. This is also going to be the phone’s largest disappointment. The trackpad will be great at text selection, but anyone expecting to use the pad for app navigation is going to be disappointed. BlackBerry will probably support the trackpad well on the homescreen and in the hub, but there will be next to no support when it comes to third party apps.

Even back on BBOS having to support navigation via the trackpad was always a pain for developers as opposed to using the touchscreen. Given the popularity of the Curve series of phones, developers relented because they had no other way to support these phones. The trackpad was then often supported on the Torch 9800 and Bold 9900 series because the work had been done already. On BlackBerry 10 that is not the case. With every phone supporting a touch screen, adding support for navigation via the track-pad is not required and many developers (including myself) will have no interest in adding this. Developers have already spent two years writing Cascades apps that were not designed with the trackpad in mind, and any Android-based apps are definitely not going to support trackpad navigation.

The most anticipated feature of the BlackBerry Classic, will be one that the users will mostly not have the opportunity to use.