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Beta Review: App World 3.0 From a Developer and User Experience Perspective

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blackberry app world 3.0

BlackBerry App World 3.0 has launched and is up in Beta Zone. The latest version, according to RIM, makes “discovering and downloading apps, games, and themes easier than ever.” We’ve tried the new App World on both a well-established device, the Torch 9800, and a brand new device, the Bold 9930. There are some major pros and cons about this latest version and we thought we’d put together a beta review since App World has become such an important part of the BlackBerry experience. To recap, App World 3.0 features:

Sleek New Design – The BlackBerry App World experience has been enhanced to help you discover the latest and greatest apps and content, starting right on the BlackBerry App World home screen where rotating spotlight banners show off all that’s new and exciting.
New Channels – Apps, Games, and Themes now have their own channels so you can get to what you want even faster. Each channel offers up a whole range of Categories, Top Lists (for Paid, Free, Rated, New Arrivals) and a Search Bar.
Introduction of My Account – My Account makes managing your BBID and payment options easy with direct access to all of your account information from the home screen.
New My World Features – My World gives you a streamlined view of all your apps and their status, and now at a glance, in addition to seeing which apps are installed and uninstalled, you can manage your subscription content and services. When new updates or subscription renewals are available for your apps, you’ll be notified using push technology.
App Social Sharing – When you find an app you can’t live without, share it with your contacts directly from the app details screen through BBM, Facebook, Twitter, email and SMS.
Evolved App Details Screen – At a glance, you can get a quick summary, check out reviews and star ratings, take a look at screen shots, and more.
More Search Options - Quickly find apps with a Search Bar now appearing on the storefront home screen and search results are presented across Channels as well as My World. Search Bars are also within each Channel and users have the ability to filter by App Name, Price, Rating, Newest, Best Match, or Popular.

Both developers and consumers are crucial end users of this product so it’s important to review App World 3.0 from both perspectives. Click through for more about how App World 3.0 may impact both of these user types.
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First Impressions of the Bold 9900, Torch 9810 and Torch 9850/9860

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BlackBerry 7 fan night
More pictures from the event available from PhotoJunkie.ca.

First of all, can you believe these model numbers? RIM couldn’t have made them more confusing. I have been writing about BlackBerry for years and I simply cannot remember what device they’re talking about when they say 9850, 9860 or 9810. The 98xx doesn’t even represent the same device anymore. You used to be able to write 97XX and you knew the 9700 and 9780 both looked the same, but not anymore. From now on, we’re going to refer to the devices by name only. The following seem most appropriate:

Bold 9900 = Bold Touch
Torch 9810 = Torch 2
Torch 9850/9860 = Storm 3

Recently, we attended the BlackBerry 7 Fan Night in Toronto and we had an opportunity to get some quality time with RIM’s upcoming BlackBerry 7 devices. There are a lot of things to say about these devices with some Pros and Cons for each of them. Generally, these devices are everything we saw last year but turned up around 40%. The user experience is faster, with homescreen switching and app launching all happening much faster (Liquid Graphics), and the web browsing experience is also much faster. The Torch 9850 and 9860, aka the Storm 3, seems to be RIM bringing back the all-touch experience (with trackpad), and it’s probably the most risky of the BlackBerry 7 devices.
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First Impressions of BlackBerry 7: Great Performance, Better Web Browser and More

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blackberry 7

BlackBerry 7 looks just like OS 6 but the software performance is tweaked and the overall experience is much faster. When you’re browsing the homescreen and switching between screens, the device performs really well. One of the downsides of OS 6 was the lag you experienced when perusing the apps; but this is gone now. BlackBerry 7 also brings with it the new APIs that will help developers make more engaging apps such as Augmented Reality apps. Another major advantage in BlackBerry 7 is the updated web browser. Browsing on a BlackBerry 7 device is much faster and the browser is around 40% better than the browser with BlackBerry 6.

The real downside to all of this is that there are still a few major issues we have with the BlackBerry Platform and its user experience that are simply not addressed in the latest OS. For example, the devices still take a long time to boot up and downloading apps still makes your device nearly unusable. Alsop, while it’s great to see new APIs being released for BlackBerry 7, there doesn’t seem to be any news around improving the developer tools. BlackBerry developers are still stuck with some major frustrations such as having to use the awful simulators.

Click through for a few reasons why you should or should not care about BlackBerry 7.
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A Quick Review of 50 Applications for the BlackBerry Torch

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blackberry app list

How many apps do you have on your device? Turns out I have 50. I thought I would go through each one of them with a very quick, one sentence review of each. If you go through the list and know an app that’s better than the one I have, please recommend in the comments. I wouldn’t recommend this many apps as I find the device a little on the sluggish side. If you want your Torch running at full speed, it’s probably best to keep it to a minimal number of apps that you use on a constant basis. Click through for a quick review of 50 apps for the Torch:
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Pachacuti’s Gold: Possibly the First BlackBerry Theme with a Fully-Integrated Game

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pachacuti gold

The problem with saying “the first theme to…” is that there are so many themes out there and it’s hard to keep track of them all. We’re going to start the conversation with saying this is “possibly the first…” because we haven’t come across anything like this at BlackBerryCool. Pachacuti’s Gold is a BlackBerry theme with a fully integrated game.

The theme includes a hidden object game and you go through the various levels unlocking a new wallpaper with each level successfully completed. There are four levels and your goal is to find for yourself to find the long lost Inca gold of Pachacuti. Decipher the captain’s notes to find the items you need to progress through 4 treacherous levels. Overall, this theme is incredibly innovative and brings the customization of themes together with the fun of casual gaming.

UPDATE: It looks like Pachacuti’s Gold was taken off Bplay a couple days ago. It’s still a very innovative theme and hopefully they bring it back.

The major downside to this theme is that it’s only available for Storm series devices. Grab your copy at this link for $1.99.