10 Best Features of the Latest BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2

20 Comments

The latest version of the BlackBerry PlayBook OS is pretty awesome isn’t it? One of the best things about the update is that it makes you feel good about the upcoming BlackBerry 10 smartphones. As far as we can tell, the upcoming BlackBerry 10 smartphones will be a smaller version of the tablet OS. This means that all the awesome games that you’ve been seeing, as well as the beautiful user interfaces, unified inbox, social integration and more, will all be a part of the next-generation BlackBerrys. There are some great new features in PlayBook OS 2.0, but there are 10 features that stand out above all.

BlackBerry Bridge Remote

1. BlackBerry Bridge Remote Control

The Remote Control feature with Bridge is amazing and it’s going to really come together when you hook up your PlayBook to your TV. Not only does the Remote make watching video and playing music from your TV a breeze, but it also integrates with PowerPoint turning your smartphone into one of those PowerPoint clickers that people usually spend an additional $40 on. Another awesome feature of the Remote is using the BlackBerry keyboard. For those with a Bold 9900, you can now take the power of a BlackBerry keyboard to the PlayBook and bang-out emails at the speed you’re used to.

2. Social Integration

It’s great to see RIM’s implementation of Gist, the Social Address Book, in all the native apps such as Messages, Calendar and Contacts. Whenever you enter a message and you have that user in your Contacts, it’s easy to bring up more information about that contact. This brings a great new dynamic to your inbox, allowing you to learn about the people you’re messaging. This is where RIM’s productivity knowledge begins to shine.

3. Folders

The Folders feature was a big pain when the PlayBook first launched. We heard a lot of complaints from users saying that Folders is a standard feature and it’s ridiculous that it wasn’t available. Now that folders is here, it’s a welcomed feature. Some of the folders I have include: Games, Location, News, Audio, Video, Productivity and more. I can’t wait to see the Productivity folder increase in size as RIM releases more advanced APIs for developers to make cool apps with.

4. Message Formatting

It was a little weird that you couldn’t type in Bold on a Bold. Perhaps something to do with the rich formatting didn’t jive with RIM’s vision of data-efficient messaging on the NOC. Now, you can use rich formatting on your PlayBook messages with Bold, Italics and more.

5. Reader Mode

When you’re browsing a website, there’s a small button in the top left that lets you switch to Reader Mode. This mode puts you in more of an RSS style of reading and makes it easy to take out the text of ad-rich websites. There are a number of ways to read websites on the PlayBook, including apps like Taptu and BlackBerry News, and this is just one more way that reading is enjoyable on the BlackBerry tablet.

Print To Go

6. Print To Go

The Print To Go feature is a cool way of integrating the desktop experience with the PlayBook. When you go to Print a document, you can send it to the PlayBook where you get a digital print version and you can even virtually shred the documents. This allows you to take the document with you on the go and review as well as sort your documents, without having to waste paper.

7. Video Calling

The video calling app on the PlayBook is much improved over the previous version. Now, you can see who is online and call them. Adding contacts is also much easier and it’s actually done automatically out of your Address Book.

8. Integrated Android Player

When PlayBook OS 2 launched, there seemed to be a lot of confusion around how Android apps would end up on the PlayBook. The way RIM has done it makes a lot of sense but the way that Android apps can communicate with the PlayBook is incredibly limited for the time being. It’s basically impossible to tell if the app you’re getting from App World was previously an Android app, and you can’t expect all your favorite Android apps to suddenly appear in App World. For now, it seems just very basic apps and games will start appearing in App World as the amount of APIs that the Android app can leverage is really limited. We’re hoping that RIM figures out how to take even the most complicated Android apps and port them to the PlayBook. Even basic payment functionality would be great, such as the ability for Android games to default from Google’s in-app payment system to App World’s without any real work on the part of the developer. Until then, just sit back and watch the apps and games come in.

9. Improved Keyboard

The new virtual keyboard on the PlayBook is a huge improvement over its predecessor. The new keyboard features alphanumeric and symbols on a single page so you can type in your credentials without having to go back and forth between different keyboard styles. Virtual keyboards on BlackBerry devices like the latest Curve have been pretty bunk, and it should be interesting if RIM takes this new style to other devices. It’s a winner for sure.

10. Calendar

The new native Calendar on the PlayBook has some great social integration as mentioned above, but it also lets you see what is going on at a glance with busy days being displayed bigger than slow days. The new Calendar also has a wide variety of ways of displaying events and seeing who is attending those events with you. All around, this Calendar makes us really excited for the type of Calendar we’ll see on a BlackBerry 10 smartphone.

Honorable Mentions:

Speed – It seems that the PlayBook has improved the speed of the user experience. Swiping windows away as well as being able to click a little ‘x’ on the window makes browsing the PlayBook faster.
Improved browserThe browser is definitely more powerful on the PlayBook. The reason it’s an honorable mention and not a favorite, is because it’s sort of always been awesome and while there are definite improvements, it seems like more of a “behind-the-scenes” feature.

A Note On Bugs

It’s worth mentioning in an article about PlayBook OS 2 that there are bugs. It’s near impossible to launch software that is completely bug free and since RIM is transitioning to an entirely new OS, there are more bugs than usual. Here are a few of the bugs we’ve noticed so far:

Folders – sometimes you get an app that doesn’t add to a folder or will glitch out.
Freezes – it’s happened that the PlayBook has frozen up and needs to be rebooted (hold the power button down until this happens).
Remote Control – the remote doesn’t work inside of apps like Angry Birds. Not really a bug just a feature shortfall.
Bridge + Native – this isn’t necessarily a bug, but it’s sort of annoying how Bridge and the native email seem a little redundant. For example, if I get an email, I get a Bridge Notification, a native email notification and a notification on my smartphone. That’s 3 notifications for 1 email. There should be settings around all of this so I can tell these devices how I want them to talk to me. Also, maybe it’s not related to the PlayBook, but I find when I’m bridged, emails notifications on the smartphone don’t disappear as fast as they do when not bridged.
Portrait Messages – It would be cool if RIM had a fun way to read your messages in portrait mode. Again, not a bug but it’s more of a Wish List.

What are some of your favorite features?

  • http://www.facebook.com/Paul.H.Cassel Paul Cassel

     Kyle: Bridge email is Pushed from BIS while native email is pulled from your account (assuming POP) every 5-30 minutes depending on your setting.

  • Anonymous

    Good points!

    but – I would like to point out a few things that I don’t agree on having as “Best features”…

    Of course we all love the new updated OS, but… a big But.. there are still lot of work remaining…

    2. Social Integration
    What we got is not a Gist thing at all - 
    yes – there is some integration — but with NO control over what is being “integrated”
    - and some being one-way… so it more like a “fetch from other account” type of “integration”.

    Will take some time getting used to browse through thousands av contacts to find the correct one… only because I am connected to them on Twitter does not mean that I need them in my local Contact book…. I wonder how many who actually Contact all of their Twitter connections?

    Also wonder what happened with Google+ – or IF we will see any connection there at all.

    One of the great things with Gist is the ability to assign priority/importance to contacts – so you can choose which one to include in your “view”/lists .. 
    None of those things are available on the Playbook.

    Gist users already have their accounts linked online – and spent a lot of time to categorize and make systems,.. 
    Would it not make more sense to let users connect the Playbook to a Gist account – and make a native Gist client to give the control needed. That way you would be in total control over which people would be “visible” in your Playbook contacts/social lists

    3. Folders
    Well – folders on the userinterface is one thing… but folders that everyone has been crying out for – is folders in the filesystem – folder support in applications.

    Please try to compose an e-mail, and attach a picture – How many Folders do you see?

    Open docsToGo – Browse documents – How many Folders do you see?

    9. Improved Keyboard
    I like the new layout – but I don’t like the way it is implemented. We have NO control over when it is used or not… Currently it randomly pops up… So I guess developers have to either change field/input-types in all apps to utilize it properly….

    Anyway – OS2 is still fresh – and hopefully RIM is still doing work to implement/imrove – so perhaps we will see these things in near future…

  • http://papogp.com Diego Nei

    Actually, you can disable whatever features you find useless on the Bridge app.

  • http://about.me/kylemcinnes Kyle McInnes

    Thanks Paul. I think I prefer the slowness of native over the awkwardness of Bridge.

  • http://about.me/kylemcinnes Kyle McInnes

    Thanks. Got a few people messaging me that and will try it out from here on in.

  • Rob

    Nice summary but I would also mention the ‘predictive sentences’
    Very cool… Guess the next WORD for you during emails!

  • Chesspain

    love the playbook, disappointed cannot create mailing group in contacts

  • http://www.jamienorthrup.com Jamie Northrup

    I’m really happy with 2.0, but honestly I was already happy before. The best new feature for me is the ability to connect my wireless headphones via bluetooth which weren’t supported before.

  • http://about.me/kylemcinnes Kyle McInnes

    Good call. Although, I’ve taken to typing from my 9900 almost 100% of the time.

  • http://about.me/kylemcinnes Kyle McInnes

    Nice, I haven’t tried that feature yet.

  • Greg Coad

    Love the integration between calendar, contacts and email. If someone else has done this before, I haven’t seen it.  Would like to see it taken further yet and I have to assume that RIM will. Like why does BB7 show communication history under a contact, but PB 2.0 is missing that?  Sure it’s coming anyways. All good things. This is what RIM should have released last year. A good starting point. 

  • Gopi

    Very nice article on the new features.
    I love feature of connecting PB to TV through HDMI. I can watch downloaded movies, play NFS and watch youtube videos.

    Browser is very good and loads content very fast. Video also loads pretty fast.

    Moving icons on home screen on one another, creates folder automatically.

    It would have been great, if there was an option to clear un-installed application list and buffering video.

  • Jsnellenbe

    Where is the on screen power button now? The little hardware one is tough to use.

  • Ggg

    Actually if you swipe up from either corner the keyboard pops up

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.arechiga Daniel Aréchiga

    You can see some options when pressing the on screen battery icon, including the “Trun off” option.

    To unlock the screen you just swipe one finger from bottom to top bezels, better than using that little button on top.

  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.arechiga Daniel Aréchiga

    You can see some options when pressing the on screen battery icon, including the “Trun off” option.

    To unlock the screen you just swipe one finger from bottom to top bezels, better than using that little button on top.

  • Mik_12

    i wanna buy it how much?

  • Foya

    when can we get a Voice Call Apps in Playbook?  Seems like every other tablet can have one except the playbook.  I love my playbook and I will love it more if I can have access to Voice Call. (not VIDEO CHAT as this is limited to BB Users only)

  • JimmyJamm_

    I can’t believe that you guys are satisfied with this product/update. I just bought this as my first BB product & am HUGELY disappointed. This offers nothing. Go to Apple or Android and WAKE UP!!!!

  • http://www.buraq-technologies.com/ ambreen11

    What a useful post here. Browser is slow and sometimes freezes when loading a really big page.I agreed with your points.