Mileage Tracker updated to version 1.6

ShapeItAppThe Mileage Tracker app has been updated to version 1.6 in BlackBerry World. This update allows you to import data from previously exported .csv data, includes a redesigned menu for switching between different categories, and also includes a reduction in the overall install size of the application.

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.

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Three years of Xploding Boxes

This past weekend, Xploding Boxes celebrated its third Birthday.

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The game has grown dramatically over the past three years, from a start of 100 levels to the 420 different levels that the game has today. On BlackBerry World the game has 1886 reviews and is averaging four out of five stars. Additionally, while the original version of the game only supported BlackBerry OS, the game has since been rewritten in order to also support the BlackBerry PlayBook, BlackBerry 10, Android, Kindle, Nook, and Windows 8.

Users not upgrading to Windows 8.1

Stats from netmarketshare.com and other web statistics sites are showing very low upgrade rates for Windows 8.1 with roughly two out of three users staying on OS 8.0 instead.

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With only 37.3% of users upgrading to the newest version of Windows 8, the question is why? Version 8.1 is a free upgrade, and is not subject to the carrier approvals that typically cause issues with upgrade rates. There is an understanding on why users may want to stick with Windows 7, but for those already on 8 there is no reason to not want to upgrade to 8.1 instead.

The culprit may be the manner in which Microsoft is pushing the update. Instead of making the upgrade available through Windows update (as they have traditionally done with service packs), the upgrade to 8.1 must be downloaded from the Windows app store. This process is actually very smooth, but the suspicion is that users simply are not checking the store often enough to notice the upgrade.

United States, Canada, and UK account for 54% of BlackBerry 10 users

A look at the January downloads for the free Stuff I Need app shows that the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom together make up 53.8% of users.

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In total, downloads came from 138 different countries, with Germany making a surprising showing at 5.4% of the market. India also does better than expected with the 7th largest number of users despite not being a traditional BlackBerry market.

OS Distribution over the first year of BlackBerry 10

Just one year into the launch of BlackBerry 10, and users have shown themselves to be rather quick to upgrade to new versions of the OS. While the wireless carriers have interfered with BlackBerry’s ability to get out the newest versions of the operating system to everyone, even the United States seems to have gotten on-board with OS 10.2.1 so expectations are high for next month.

While the day following the launch of 10.2.1 showed 66.61% of users on the newest OS, this came too late in the month to have much of an impact on the overall numbers for January. Growth of newer OS versions was overall steady, but slow. February is expected to be much better as there are now no carriers pretending that OS 10.1 is the newest release.

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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 February 2013 through the end of January 2014.

New Version of Twinkle is a share target for calendar events

Twinkle has been updated to version 5.3 in BlackBerry World for all BlackBerry 10 phones. In addition to a few optimizations, this new version also allows Twinkle to act as a share target for calendar events from other applications including the built-in calendar app.
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About Twinkle

Twinkle is an app that allows you to set and keep track of upcoming and past events. Twinkle will tell you how far away an event is, and share it with a friends through social networks. The app includes an number of options for sorting or filtering your views in order to allow you to easily be able to manage and share a large number of different events.

Sharing events from the native calendar

IMG_20140202_140921In order to send an event to Twinkle from the native calendar app, just open the event and then select the ‘Share’ option from the menu. This will give you a list of applications (including Twinkle) that you can share the event to. Twinkle will then pre-populate the fields as if you were to manually create a new event.

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Update for 10,000 Farkle

Z10The BlackBerry game 10,000 Farkle has been updated to version 2.3 in BlackBerry World. This new version offers a number of optimizations that makes the app faster, and also reduces the overall install size of the app by over 26 percent. Additionally, this update to the game also includes a swipe-down menu in order to give you another way to access some of the game’s advanced features.

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.

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BBOS distribution mostly unchanged from last month

While BlackBerry 10 users have been quick to upgrade, the demographics of the older BBOS are mostly unchanged over the past month. OS 5.0 was first released in 2009, and still claims a decent percentage of the market share. With the release of OS 7.0 coming in 2011, even this version has been around for awhile, but has yet to even capture 50% of the market.

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

Two thirds of BlackBerry 10 users on 10.2.1 within the first 24 hours

BlackBerry officially released OS 10.2.1 this past Tuesday, and despite a few wireless carriers blocking the update for their users, the majority of users who downloaded my apps on Wednesday were already running the newest version of the OS. Taking the average from users of Pixelated and the Stuff I Need apps shows 66.61% of users on the newest OS just a day after it officially launched.

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Statistics were collected by BlackBerry World for downloads on January 29th of the free strategy game Pixelated and the free checklist app Stuff I Need. Because this is a snapshot of just a single day, the overall sample size is significantly smaller than for most of the statistics that are posted on this site.

Xploding Boxes version 4.8 brings new levels

level174An update to Xploding Boxes has increased the total number of levels to 420. This update also brings some tweaks to the swipe down menu on BlackBerry 10 devices, and a smaller install size for the Windows 8, Nook, and PlayBook versions of the app.

Additionally, Xploding Boxes has received its official ESRB rating, and is rated E for everyone.

About Xploding Boxes

Xploding Boxes is a strategy game for BlackBerry, Android, Nook, Windows 8, and BlackBerry 10 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 touches, and requires 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 maintaining your progress from the free levels.

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Prem Watsa’s acquisition of BlackBerry did not fail

Much has been written about Prem Watsa’s failed acquisition of BlackBerry, and most of it strikes me as being wrong. Especially the part about it having failed.

In September 2013 Prem Watsa’s Fairfax Financial announced its intention to take BlackBerry private for $4.7 billion. While Fairfax already owned around 10% of BlackBerry they wanted to take the company private without investing any additional money of their own. This arrangement would have allowed Fairfax to have control over how BlackBerry was run.

While the full amount of money was never raised it is seems safe to say that Fairfax has managed to take control of BlackBerry without investing any additional money of their own. In a November 2013 announcement Fairfax effectively used their 10% ownership in order to take control of the company, by placing it under their own hand-picked CEO and putting forth their own vision for the future of BlackBerry. Granted, Fairfax did give BlackBerry a loan, but it is hard to give Prem Watsa too much credit for that given the very health 6% interest rate that Fairfax is getting in return.

At the end of the day it is hard to say that Prem Watsa didn’t get exactly what he wanted out of the deal insofar as that he was able to leverage his 10% ownership into complete control of the company. While this looks to be in the best long term interest of Fairfax financial, I have to question whether or not it is best for the users and developers of BlackBerry phones.

The useless products of CES

Last week was CES and very many new products and product categorizes were shown off, yet all of these products are completely useless. Except for the robots. Robots are always awesome.

Yet the highlights of CES are things like smart watches which (in my opinion) are a complete waste of time. I wrote about this before, but having a smart watch is not practical when you already have a phone in your pocket that does everything you need to do. There is really no demand for a secondary screen, when all other pressure is about condensing everything down to a single device.

The other trend at CES was towards devices like Fitbit that measure your physical activity. Personally I consider myself to be an athlete, and run 5-6 times a week, but I have no interest in these technology. Sure, it is possible to measure my distance, heart rate, speed, step-count, and a thousand other factors, but I just don’t care. I am happy to continue running in a low tech environment, and see no advantage to tracking every single detail of my workout. Just because something can be measured, doesn’t mean that it matters.

And I certainly don’t need a bluetooth fork…

Starbeams expands to 150 levels

Q10Version 1.5 of Starbeams expands the game to a total of 150 different levels. The game can be download from both BlackBerry World and the Windows 8 Store.

New in Version 1.5

This update to the game adds levels 141-150, while also adding support for the ‘T’ and ‘B’ keyboard shortcuts to the Windows 8 version of the game.

About Starbeams

The object of the game is to assign colors to each star in order to ensure that none of the stars are connected to another star of the same color. The game starts off easy, but quickly gets more complex, adding more colors and seven pointed stars that can not be changed.

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Update for Stuff I Need app

IMG_00000023The BlackBerry 10 version of the Stuff I Need app has been updated to version 2.3 and is available for download now. This update gives the app a quicker start up time, and also improves the overall efficiency of the app.

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. 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.

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