All posts by Eric at Ebscer

Niagara Border Crossing updated for Windows 10

The Niagara Border Crossing App has been updated to version 2.0 in the Windows app store. This app shows wait times for border crossings over the Niagara River between the United States and Canada, and is also available for Android, iPhone, and BlackBerry.

Wait times are shown for all four of the bridges between Western New York and Southern Ontario. These include the Lewiston-Queenston Bridge, the Whirlpool Rapids Bridge, the Rainbow Bridge, and the Peace Bridge. Separate times are shown for cars, trucks, and also for those using the Nexus lanes.

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10th anniversary of BlackBerry AppWorld

BlackBerry AppWorld turns ten years old today.

While the store is currently limping towards its demise at the end of the year, it is worth celebration and acknowledging the run that it has had. Ten years is a long time, and for many of those years it was at the center of my world. It was the means through which all of my hard work was distributed to tens of millions of others.

For many years it was the only way that I collected money to pay my rent.

BlackBerry has moved on from apps and phones, and quite honestly I have since moved on from BlackBerry.

But I still miss it at times. So, here is to a celebration of AppWorld’s final birthday. At the very least it was good to me…

NCAA Hockey Ratings return

Elo ratings for NCAA college hockey are back up and running at ebscer.com/collegehockey after not working properly for the start of the season.

Currently the top ranked team is Minnesota-Duluth with St. Cloud State just a single point behind. Minnesota State rounds out the top three which are all from the same state. (Meanwhile my alma mater is in the middle of the pack).

These ratings can also be used to generate predictions for the outcomes of future games. I also have an explanation of what these ratings mean.

Head Words game updated to version 1.5

ShapeItAppThe BlackBerry 10 game Head Words has been updated to version 1.5 in BlackBerry AppWorld. This version adds a new “Drinks” category that will probably be the last new item that I ever post for sale in the BlackBerry store. Additionally the other categories include updates for items that have become popular within the past year such as The Good Place, and Camila Cabello.

About Head Words

Head Words is a native multi-player guessing game where 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 ten additional categories for a dollar each.

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Z10 accounted for over half of all BlackBerry 10 devices

As BlackBerry 10 has just passed the 5 year mark it seemed like a good time to take a look back at the platform. The very first BlackBerry 10 phone, the all touch screen Z10, proved to be the most popular accounting for 63% of all devices.

The second phone to launch, the Q10, proved to be the second most popular. This shows how the BlackBerry 10 platform never really got all that far past the initial launch of the devices. The three devices that were launched in the first half of 2013 (Z10, Q10, Q5) ended up accounting for 88% of all BlackBerry 10 phones. While later devices such as the Passport and Z30 got a good amount of media attention, they never got quite the same sales as the initial batch that BlackBerry released.

Mostly this is probably due to the lack of support for BlackBerry 10 from the wireless carriers (especially in the United States) after the initial launch of the platform.

This data was collected by BlackBerry World for downloads of the free checklist app Stuff I Need. Data shown on the chart is from the launch of BlackBerry 10 in January 2013 through the end of January 2018.

Five years of BlackBerry 10 OS adoption

Last week marked the fifth anniversary of the launch of BlackBerry 10, and with the OS abandoned at this point we can look at the complete history of OS adoptions by users of the platform.

Throughout the life of BlackBerry 10 users were fairly quick to update to the newest version of the OS with almost every version exceeding 70% adoption after the first two months. This rate slowed down for the final version of the OS (currently around 64% adoption rate) as the users that cared most about getting updates have probably moved on to other platforms that are still planning future updates.

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 launch of BlackBerry 10 in January 2013 through the end of January 2018.

Update for the Hockey Scores app

The BlackBerry 10 Hockey Scores app has been updated to version 4.4. The app now offers the option to show the scores for different dates, so you can easily check to see yesterday’s scores, or tomorrow’s game times.

About Hockey Scores

In addition to showing the scores of each game, the app also shows the game time, shot on goal, shot attempts, hits, faceoff percentages, and a full list of all of the game’s goal scorers.

A one time in-app purchase can be used to remove all advertising from the app.

The version will not be released on BBOS, and should be coming to iOS soonish.

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webHockey Scores for BlackBerry

BlackBerry 10 usage in 2017

The final two months of 2017 saw a slight uptick in the use of OS 10.3.3 but things were mostly unchanged over the course of the past year as BlackBerry is no longer updating their 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 December 2016 through the end of December 2017.

The users still on BlackBerry 10

A year after the release of version 10.3.3 the distribution of BlackBerry OS versions looks the same as it has since last summer with roughly half of all users running the final version of the 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 October 2016 through the end of October 2017.

Controlling a phone with gestures

With the iPhone X launching this fall without a home button, many iOS users are going to have to get used to controlling their phones with just gestures. For those of us with a history on BlackBerry 10 we know how this works, and we are here to tell you that it is awesome.

Swipe up to home

Honestly this gesture is perfect. A simple swipe up to get back to the home screen is super intuitive, and as much as I enjoy the fingerprint reader, having to use a button on my iPhone still feels like a step backwards.

Swipe down for control center

Again this is straight out of the BlackBerry 10 interface and it works well. Honestly this isn’t much different than the current iOS approach, but moving to the top to have the more reachable swipe sending you home makes sense.

Lift to wake

This was added in BlackBerry 10.3.1 and while conceptually neat, I actually went and turned this off. Just reaching to place the phone in my pocket the screen would flash on and I found this to be too distracting, so I went without this function.

FaceID

BlackBerry didn’t have this one. Apple seems confident in their technology, and honestly it is going to make or break this design. If it can not match the speed of touch id then I probably won’t be getting the iPhone X.

BlackBerry Hub

Apple hasn’t shown off notification on the new phone, so I am going to keep the dream alive. Probably not going to ship with iOS 11. Still I think this is one area where iPhone will remain behind BlackBerry’s ease of use.

5 BlackBerry Storm features that the iPhone still lacks

With a higher resolution screen, a better camera, LTE support, and an OS that has been updated in the past eight years, the iPhone 7 is far superior to the BlackBerry Storm. Still there are a few things that the old phone still does better. With Apple releasing iOS 11 next month, lets hope that some of these features get included.

Unified Inbox

The BlackBerry Storm had a messages app that combined multiple email accounts, SMS, BBM, Twitter, and almost all other messaging platforms into a single feed. While not as complete as BlackBerry 10’s Hub, it was still superior to the siloed experience found on iOS. Attempts to address this issue on iOS with a notification center are not remotely useful.

A default email client that supports push for gmail accounts

The default email client for iOS is bad in many ways. However the lack of push support for the world’s most popular email service is particularly embarrassing. Third party clients support this, and BlackBerry has had this feature since well before the iPhone was ever launched.

Notification LED

One of BlackBerry’s simpler features was a small led that could be configured to blink different colors for different types of notifications. This allows you to know if you have any messages just a glance, and without even touching your phone. I am utterly baffled as to why other phone manufactures have not copied this feature.

An accessible file system

My iPhone has 128 GB of storage, yet I am unable to download email attachments simply because there is no place to just store arbitrary files. This could also be useful for transferring songs and pictures on and off from the phone. Apple’s attempt to hide complexity is actually making simple operations more complex.

A clickable screen that actually clicks

Honestly, neither the BlackBerry Storm’s click screen, nor the iPhone’s 3-D touch are good ideas. An interface that can work with a simple touch screen is a superior experience. But if you are going to have a clickable screen, you may as well commit to having a clickable screen. The 3-D touch feature on iOS is difficult to trigger intentionally, and in practice is more likely to trigger a long press event.

BlackBerry 10 OS distribution

The distribution of BlackBerry 10 OS versions continues to be unchanged this summer with roughly half of all users running OS 10.3.3 and over 90% of users on at least some variant of 10.3.X.

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 July 2016 through the end of July 2017.