Bringing the BB up to speed with Apple and Google
The humble BlackBerry was a little late to the apps game, with BlackBerry App World launching last year to offer extra smartphone apps.
That marketplace has grown slowly, still offering far, far less than the 200,000-plus apps of the Apple App Store. But with App World 2.0, RIM hopes to make the whole app-buying process a little easier.
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One of the major gripes with the original platform was the clumsy navigation - the top 25 paid and free apps were in separate places, downloading took up all the device’s processing power and the updates were hard to install.
RIM has made a few tweaks to the UI, but not enough to satisfy: there are now only four tabs (categories, top 25 apps, search and My World) and moving between them is much faster, but the same multiple levels of clicking to simply buy an app still exist.
The biggest improvement comes in the infrastructure surrounding the App World, and here RIM is finally rivalling the iPhone’s App Store.
When first using App World, users are asked to create a BlackBerry ID, which is synchronised with a PayPal account or credit/debit card. From then on, users only need to type in the password to buy a new app, rather than having to log in, then log into PayPal before the download can finally begin.
App updates, sadly, haven’t improved. While there’s an option to see how much internal storage you have left (which is handy) you still need to open every app manually to initiate the update, which is laborious and means most people won’t do it. We would have loved to see an ‘update all’ icon like in the iPhone App Store, or just a more user friendly interface like in the Android Market.
Barcode scanning is also included here, and works pretty well - users can see a 2D barcode (QR code), the phone’s camera is fired up and the BlackBerry deciphers the code and heads to a dedicated website or app in the App World.
Our BlackBerry Bold 9700 could recognise most QR codes with ease, and it will certainly make app advertising easier in the future.
The new BlackBerry App World is a step in the right direction, with a cleaner interface, easier layout and reduction in the amount of steps needed to buy each application. However, the average price of the apps is still a little steep and the selection rather woeful - hopefully with the new BlackBerry 6 OS developers might feel more inclined to create on the BB platform too.