Ebscer BB10 Apps

IMG_00000108With BlackBerry 10 going on sale this morning in the UK, there are currently 12 Ebscer apps available in the BlackBerry World store, and an additional two apps awaiting approval. The full list of Ebscer apps can be found at ebscer.com/blackberry10, and includes games like Pixelated, Liar’s Dice, and Xploding Boxes. Also included in the store are some apps exclusive to BlackBerry 10, such as Mileage Tracker, and Stuff I Need.

Check out all Ebscer apps at BlackBerry World.

BB World_Get It_BLK Box

Expectations for tomorrow’s launch

RIM has insisted that they will still have some surprises to announce tomorrow when they launch BlackBerry10. While we already (unofficially) know all about some unannounced features such as BBM Video and BlackBerry Voice, I am hoping that RIM still has a few surprises up their sleeves.

I spoke about this some on video with with Michael Li, but I think that RIM may still have a bit to announce in terms of cloud services. The set up that RIM is already using for the print-to-go app on PlayBook, implies that most of the infrastructure and technology is already set up and tested for BlackBerry to create a very integrated device to desktop connection. I am hoping that the upcoming BlackBerry Link app is more cloud based, than just a re-skinning of BlackBerry Desktop Manager.

BlackBerry also has some opportunities with their Scoreloop acquisition. The existing ‘Games’ app on the DevAlpha implies that there will be a significant advantage to games that integrate with this service. The recently released update to Pixelated includes Scoreloop leaderboards for this very reason.

With pretty much all services on the device now tied into BlackBerryID, there should be plenty of opportunity to use that for device storage similar to how Windows 8 uses the Windows.Storage.ApplicationData.Current.RoamingSettings objects in order to link app settings across different devices.

Away from cloud storage, BlackBerry has a real opportunity in their ability to support DLNA. With this they can offer features that make Apple TV (and the Nexus Q) irrelevant. The only downside is to battery life. In a year or two this approach could also threaten the need for an Xbox of PlayStation.

Also I really hope that BlackBerry announces something that finally makes NFC useful. It is cool technology, but in the past 18 months of having NFC on my phone, I have not had a real reason to use it.

BlackBerry 10 delayed until 10:00 am

Industry analysts who had been expecting to see BlackBerry 10 launched on January 30th at 9:00am have been disappointed as RIM has delayed the launch of their new phones till ten o’clock. Initial reaction on the stock market was muted, but many have warned that “the true fallout from this announcement has yet to be seen”.

bbBlackBerry maker RIM (RIMM) has been working on their new BlackBerry 10 operating system (their first with a touch screen) in order to compete with Apple’s iPhone, and Samsung’s Galaxy S III phone. While many have thought that RIM should follow HP and Dell’s move into the Enterprise tech industry, the company under CEO Thorsten Heins seems to still be committed to releasing phones.

Still most analysts see this delay as devastating to the BlackBerry maker. “This gives Microsoft additional time to claim their place as the number three smartphone maker” noted one watcher of the stock. “There is no way of knowing how many CIO’s will give up on the platform during this lost hour.”

Others warned that BlackBerry 10, may still see more delays. “For all we know, once everyone arrives for the press conference, they may not actually take to the stage until five minutes after the hour”.

Pixelated updated to version 3.3

IMG_00000080Pixelated has been updated to version 3.3 across all platforms. Notably, this update adds support for BlackBerry 10 which is being launched on Wednesday.

New in version 3.3

A new colour scheme option has been added to Pixelated Plus for all platforms. The PlayBook version of the app has had a visual update to give it a look more in line with the Windows 8 version. The game has also gotten a thicker highlight colour for the selector on non-touchscreen versions of the game on BlackBerry Phones. The new BB10 version of the game includes a leader board that is powered by Scoreloop for both the free and paid versions of the game. This update also includes a number of bug fixes.

About Pixelated

IMG_00000083Pixelated is an addictive puzzle based strategy game that requires a mixture of skill and luck in order to accomplish. The object of the game is to change the colour of the squares until the entire screen is a single solid colour. Starting with the square in the upper left corner you can change the colour of the blocks in order to match that of the surrounding squares. This is done repeatedly until the entire screen is a single colour. The object of the game is to clear the screen in as few moves as possible. Under the default settings you must do so in under 22 moves in order to win. The game is controlled by the large colored blocks on the side of the screen.

Links & Information

The new ebscer.com

IMG_00000104My website has never really been that good. I picked up the domain name, more for the email address than for the site itself. While I have tried (half heartedly) to fill the site with some content, it has never really been a real priority. With the launch of BlackBerry 10 right around the corner, I figured it was time to redesign the my site.

The site redesign was done with an emphasis on it looking good on mobile (which given my business, is probably something I should have done years ago). The site’s design ques are taken from a mix of BlackBerry 10 and Windows 8, in order to give the site a modern (and mobile) feel.

The new site has a simple page dedicated to each of my apps (see ebscer.com/pixelated or ebscer.com/xplodingboxes) and also pages dedicated for each operating system (see ebscer.com/blackberry10 or ebscer.com/nook).

Hopefully in this format the website will be easier to maintain, and will be more useful to everyone else.

Impact of the port-a-thons

IMG_00000071Over the past few weekends BlackBerry has hosted some port-a-thon events in which they offered $100 for every BlackBerry 10 app submitted to BlackBerry World. I placed quite a few apps into the store during these weekends, but for the most part they were apps that I would have been working on anyhow, and mostly apps that I had already had up and running on the old BlackBerry OS. To be fair, developers such as myself were not the primary target for the event, but it did encourage me to create three more apps for the launch of BlackBerry 10 than I otherwise would have.

Animal Sounds app

The animal sounds app was mainly done as a challenge to see if I could complete an app in under 24 hours. The port-a-thon was mostly just an excuse to jump in and do so. It also provided a revenue model for the app. I knew going in that the app would not be good enough, that I could charge for it, and placing advertisements in apps aimed at kids has always struck me as being a bit sketchy. One hundred dollars easily was enough to cover the minimal effort that this app took.

Ebscer blog app

IMG_00000095I also took the time to turn this blog into an app using the BlackBerry App Generator. In many ways this was just an excuse to try out the tool. Given that there is no way to actually test these apps on device before submitting them to AppWorld, I am still not sure what I am going to do with this app. Depending on how this app turns out, I may remove this one from the store.

Stuff I Need

Given the lack of a good simple grocery list app, it was probably inevitable that was going to write the Stuff I Need app sooner or later. Still the port-a-thon gave me a reason to jump in and write this about a month earlier than I otherwise would have. While this is not a huge app, it is one that I expect to find useful.

Morse Code app expands support to BlackBerry 10

IMG_00000065The Morse Code app in BlackBerry AppWorld has been updated to version 2.0, adding support for BlackBerry 10 phones. The number of supported devices has also increased for phones running the traditional BlackBerry operating system, with all phones running OS 5.0 or newer, being supported.

About Morse Code

This app will take your text, and translate it back to you in Morse Code. Any text can simply be entered, and then by pressing the “Play Morse Code” button, can be turned into an audible Morse Code signal. The application also allows you to adjust the speed of the playback in words per minute in order to accommodate different skill levels.

Links & Information

Mileage Tracker version 1.0 released

IMG_00000038Version 1.0 of Mileage Tracker has been released into AppWorld for BlackBerry 10 phones. This free app is designed to help you track the miles you drive on each trip for use on tax deductions, accounting, or reimbursements from your employer. Instead of keeping this information charted on your computer, it makes much more sense to be able to track this mobiley from your phone, which you would have with you in the car anyhow.

In order to start a new entry select the ‘Add’ option on the bottom of the screen. For each trip, you must include a reason, a date, and the starting odometer reading. Selecting an existing entry gives you the option to edit any of these fields or to even delete the listing all together. This app allows you to create different categories, so that you can have separate lists for different billing periods, each vehicle, or on a per project basis. You are in fact free to organize your data any way you wish. Categories can be renamed from the menu, and giving two categories the same name will automatically merge them.

MenuFollowing a one time in-app payment you can export your data into an excel compatible .csv format and a pretty (and sortable) .html format. Using data from my own trips in 2012 I have created a sample of what the exported files look like for both html and .csv.

Links & Information

15,000 apps

During last weekend’s virtual port-a-thon 15,000 BlackBerry 10 apps were submitted to BlackBerry AppWorld.

First lets acknowledge that most of these apps are probably junk. This event was clearly about quantity over quality, and the event delivered on the big round numbers. In all likelihood the majority of these apps were repackaged html sites, or quickly ported Android apps. The good news is that I am sure that some people will find some of these quickly ported apps very useful, and that the mix is probably not any worse than a random selection of 15,000 apps from Apple’s App Store would be.

The good news is that fifteen thousand is a very impressive, very big number. To give some context, BlackBerry AppWorld was originally launched in 2009 with less than 2,000 apps. It wasn’t until at least two years later that the total size of the store grew to 15,000 applications. Windows 8 (which launched three months ago) is currently showing only 19,337 apps available in my region, and there is no doubt that BlackBerry 10 has long since blown by that number.

I really hope that RIM has a plan to get all of these apps through the approval process in a timely manner. I will be submitting some more apps later this week, that I would really like to have in the store by the time that BlackBerry 10 phones are on the shelves. The fact that 15,000 apps just got placed ahead of them in the queue is slightly worrying.

24 hour app challenge

From now until midnight tomorrow, BlackBerry is offering $100 for every BlackBerry 10 app that is submitted to AppWorld. Currently I am on track to have nine applications available in AppWorld at launch. Given that it would be much cooler to have 10 apps for BlackBerry 10, and that I can get a bonus if I finish an app by tomorrow, I have decided to challenge myself to completing a new app within the next 24 hours.

I have an idea for a free app that should be fairly simple, but I have not yet started on it at all. And while this idea will require a bit too much time editing images (and audio), I think I should be able to get it completed by this time tomorrow. I will post an overview of this app making experience early next week.

A 27″ tablet is not as stupid as it sounds

At CES Lenovo has announced that they are planning on launching a 27 inch, 17 pound Windows 8 tablet this summer. At first glance this seems ridiculous, and the product has already received it’s fair share of mockery. But the truth is that it really isn’t that terrible of an idea, at least once you stop thinking of it as a tablet.

The image to the right is from Lenovo’s promo video, and shows how incredibly awkward it would be to carry it around like a traditional tablet. And while I can fit my PlayBook into my pocket, this beast would not even fit into a backpack, and is truly not ‘mobile’ in any sense of the word.

But it doesn’t have to be.

If you consider it less as a tablet, and more as a nice 27″ all-in-one desktop PC that happens to have a touchscreen, then it is actually pretty nice. The Verge recently wrote about how touch screens can be useful on non-tablets, and I think we can eventually expect all screens to support touch. While the $1,700 that Lenovo is asking for is a bit much, prices will come down. In a few years, it probably will not be possible to buy a monitor that doesn’t support touch input.

Where are PlayBook users from?

The PlayBook is seeing a much more diverse installation base then when I looked at it last year. While the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom combine for 71.6% of users, another six countries held claim to over one percent of the instal base, and downloads were seen from 142 different nations.


The PlayBook continues to have an outsized popularity in RIM’s homeland of Canada, accounting for 37.8% of users. The PlayBook also showed surprising popularity in India and the Philippines, which both saw a higher share of PlayBook users than traditional BlackBerry hubs such as Indonesia.

The vast majority (83.93%) of these users have English as their primary language. The next most popular languages were Spanish, French and German.


96.5% of PlayBook users are running OS 2.1.0, and well over 99% of users are running some version OS 2.x on their devices. For more details see yesterday’s post on BerryReview.

These statistics are generated from PlayBook downloads of the strategy game Xploding Boxes, from September 1st, through December 31st. Data was collected by BlackBerry AppWorld at the time of download.