Kompass for BlackBerry is a mobile site that is optimized for smartphones including BlackBerry. The fact that it’s a mobile site offers some advantages and disadvantages, and this review aims to highlight each aspect of this choice. Basecamp is a project management platform used by many businesses, and considering the number of SMBs on BlackBerry, it’s surprising a native app hasn’t yet been developed. Let’s take a look at the Beta version of Kompass for BlackBerry, after the break.
Milestones are a key element of the Basecamp experience. Creating a Milestone is setting a deadline on your calendar that helps bring the project closer to completion. Creating a Milestone on the desktop is a simple process, and once a Milestone is created, it is instantly available in the Kompass for Basecamp Milestone menu. Granted, you have to refresh, and having a native BlackBerry app would mean the ability to push this information to the device, there is still virtually no wait time.
Creating a Milestone from the mobile site is almost as fast as creating one from the desktop. The app lets you quick select a date from a drop down menu, but also provides you with a pop-up style calendar to visually select a date. This was a helpful feature as I don’t always know what date corresponds to which day of the week. After saving the date, the Milestone is instantly available on the mobile version, as well as on the desktop version.
Once you have selected a milestone, you have the ability to Edit, Delete, or Comment on the item. In the Edit section, you have all the expected menu items available to you such as the ability to edit the date, notification settings and name of the item.
Overall, the transitions between menus is very fast. Running a Bold 9000 with 3G, there was very little lag between screens, and the app gave me a renewed optimism about web-based applications. Again, a native app wouldn’t have even the slightest lag between screens and is always preferred.
The fact that Kompass is a mobile site would be pretty beneficial to a company that has a lot of device fragmentation. It would be interesting to see some analytics from the folks at HighRise about the most common devices used in organizations employing Basecamp. Intuitively, you would think BlackBerry is the most prominent, as it’s the business standard. On the other hand, the SMB market tends to have more diversity in smartphones, and therefore this decision may have been sound.
One feature missing, which I would like to see, is the addition of Writeboards. I personally use the writeboards a lot for planning, and they’re a handy feature to have.
The biggest downside to Kompass for Basecamp is that one of the key features users are looking for when it comes to a Basecamp app, is deep integration with core BlackBerry apps. My point is probably best described as a feature set for a non-existent, but ideal Basecamp for BlackBerry app:
- Full integration with BlackBerry Messenger – Basecamp for BlackBerry would be able to import contacts into BBM, and automatically create a BBM Group for your company. This group would essentially replace the messaging system, allowing you to communicate with team members and share files from the BBM integration.
- Calendar integration – The Basecamp app should be able to take Milestones and integrate them with the calendar. You can also use Address Book integration to assign members tasks who may not be in your Basecamp system. This would also provide the opportunity for those who aren’t in your Basecamp system to be invited to join. Another benefit of calendar integration would be the ability to import tasks from Milestones, into your native calendar without having to touch the desktop version.
- BlackBerry Messages integration – I’m constantly receiving emails for tasks, notes and items that pertain to my company on Basecamp. Ideally, Basecamp for BlackBerry would be integrated with the Messages app, such that I could import items directly from the Messages application. For example, I receive an email from Drew, with some ideas for company direction and some good sites we should check out. From the email, I would simply press the menu key, and select “Create Writeboard from Message” and the item would be imported into a new, or existing Writeboard. The same would be true for Milestones and To Do items.
Before this app is out of Beta, I’m hoping that the mobile site is given some form of launcher, and ideally works with BlackBerry Web Signals. I’m not sure how technically plausible this is, but a web app should be able to tell you of updates to the Basecamp system, by pushing a notification to the icon. Currently, you have to access a web portal through the browser, and there is no notification system for whether or not changes have been made.
Overall, their are some upsides and downsides to having a mobile web version of Basecamp on your BlackBerry. I personally believe that the average user may be satisfied with what the mobile web version can provide, but a power user absolutely must have a native BlackBerry app for the integration described above. Perhaps if Kompass for BlackBerry takes off, they’ll see the value in investing money in a purely BlackBerry application, one worthy of being called a Super App.