back to article BlackBerry PlayBook OS gets RIM spit 'n' polish

Owners of a BlackBerry PlayBook can now download version, finally providing a native email client and some integrated social networking, but not a lot of either. This is the PlayBook OS which brings support for ported Android apps, and native email, along with better social integration and document management, but …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lipstick & Pig

    I'm not sure where that phrase came from, but it's well suited to describe RIM's latest attempt to revive this dead horse.

    1. Andrew Baines Silver badge

      Re: Lipstick & Pig

      So far, it looks like people with a PlayBook think they're great. People without hate them.

      One side doesn't want to admit they've wasted their money, the other is speaking from ignorance. Looks like another argument generating more heat than light.

      1. chr0m4t1c

        Re: Re: Lipstick & Pig

        I don't have a PlayBook, but I don't hate them, I just don't want one.

        I think BB missed their market by a mile with the initial release by not having proper email built in and now they're still missing the target because there's no BBM or BES support - essentially they've brought out a device that doesn't do the things that BB are most known for.

        It's like Burger King bringing out a burger that isn't flame-grilled.

  2. James 51

    When can we look forward to a full review?

  3. Dapprman

    It is my understanding that ...

    ... these things are remarkably good media players, and with even Dixons Group now selling the 16 GB one at £169, 32GB one for just £199, and even the 64GB one for £249, perhaps they are now about to become a cheap but decent alternative (especially if suitable android software is ported across)

    1. the-it-slayer

      Re: It is my understanding that ...

      Na. Just na. For an eye-straining experience, no thanks. This is more of an attempt to polish a royally, acute smelling turd that RIM can't seem to work out it's market place for.

      Okay, lure in your teenagers and business customers alike, but surely teenagers can't afford these things and business won't just want their employees to hook up an adjoining device to view company data?

      Anyway, iPad 3 is coming soon anyway and the reg will be all over it like an acute rash :).

      1. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: Re: It is my understanding that ...

        And when the iPad 3 turns up it will cost 2-2.5x as much as this thing retails for. And the Playbook has an HDMI output and wider codec support. So it would be a better media player. Then again for the same price an Archos device would be better again since it plays pretty much anything.

        1. ThomH

          Re: Re: Re: It is my understanding that ...

          Sure, make fun of the iPad, but the PlayBook's mess is entirely of RIM's own making. RIM has one unique selling point — secure push mail — but has managed to give their tablet a native email client only almost a year after launch.

          If you want a bargain media playback device, go Android. Let's not try to paint RIM in a positive light just because of dislike for the iPad.

      2. Levente Szileszky

        Re: Re: It is my understanding that ...

        "Anyway, iPad 3 is coming soon anyway"

        AHAHAHAHAHA... that was my reaction to the idea of comparing that Flash-disabled, racket-sized, $500+ shiny Apple turd to anything that runs Flash, costs $200 or less and around 7-8" and fits into a pocket. :)

      3. David 14
        Thumb Up

        Re: Re: It is my understanding that ...

        More like, yeah, just Yeah!

        The Playbook is a fantastic media device. I have not tested the new OS's media capabilities yet, but the included video codecs on the original PB OS was fantastic, just a few audio issue on some avi encodes I had available. You can get to the playbook directly over wi-fi if you want to, so moving files around is easy and does not require silly tethering and special applications to do so.

        The comment about company data shows there is an ignorance about how the playbook was designed to work.... an iPAD will natively require local data storage of corporate data... a PlayBook is designed to work with existing BlackBerry devices and the commonplace corporate BES server controls of those devices... so you view your corporate data on the playbook, but it remains on the secure and protected blackberry device itself.

        So far, the OS v2 is a nice change. The user interface changed slightly, but not significantly better or worse in my mind. The native email client will be nice for some, but not something I want or need (I use the blackberry bridge for email already).

        The "use the blackberry as a remote keyboard/mouse" is great! Using the BB9900 with a multi-touch screen and a traditional BB keyboard I now have a much better mechanism to control powerpoint shows in meetings, take notes and write short documents, and when not working, to remotely surf the net and watch videos from my couch/hotel bed with the playbook connected directly via HDMI to the TV.

        All in all, nice update to a great little device. Much happier with the PlayBook than my HP TouchPad or iPAD.

        1. DrXym Silver badge

          Re: Re: Re: It is my understanding that ...

          "so you view your corporate data on the playbook, but it remains on the secure and protected blackberry device itself."

          Sorry but that has to be one of the lamest excuses ever to emanate for missing functionality in a device.

          A far more plausible explanation is that their proprietary platform was a difficult and complex thing to port to a new device and they failed to do it in the time frame. So plan B was to kludge a bridge to the phone and concoct some ludicrous story that people were less likely to lose a phone than a tablet and therefore this monstrosity was the Only Way (tm).

          Nothing about a native client would prevent RIM encrypting the data in flash and protecting it such that if the device were lost it would be unreadable. e.g. the device and the mail app could both require authentication from the user. Without authentication the mail is unreadable.

          I think but for this the Playbook would have been a lot more successful. Now it's been resolved in 2.0 it may still manage to salvage some good caused in the meantime.

  4. W.O.Frobozz

    "Playbook OS 2." I'm sure I'm not the only one who thought "OS/2," especially given the upcoming Android layer. As long as they don't use buddhist monks in an upcoming commercial....

    1. DrXym Silver badge

      Potentially history repeating

      One of the "it seemed like a good idea at the time" features of OS/2 2.x+ was it supported Windows 3.x and DOS applications. Problem with that is it reduced the incentive for anyone to bother developing native OS/2 apps. Why should a vendor double development effort writing a native app when they can just ship the existing DOS / Windows version and tell OS/2 users to use that?

      I see the same possibility happening with the Playbook. If it supports Android (albeit in a limited form) then where is the incentive to write a native app? There is none. Android becomes default platform development and Playbook just supports a slightly iffy implementation and hopes to snap up scraps that fall off the table.

      RIM had better hope that with 2.0 they've fixed the most grevious issues in the OS for business users because that's where their bread and butter lies. Personally I wonder if RIM wouldn't be better off to just adopt Android completely and provide value added support to differentiate its products from other tablet manufacturers.

      1. Andy Farley

        Re: Potentially history repeating

        Yep, I think they need to go Android and expand on it with BBM etc.

        Or just not build a tablet. The whole idea seems misconceived.

        What Apple were really good at with the iPhone was not wasting money on me-too devices until they could do something better than the incumbent. That seemed to work.

        1. W.O.Frobozz

          Re: Re: Potentially history repeating

          Personally I don't know why they didn't just port their most important kit to existing tablets. I think the deep integration with the phone is a great feature--I had to root my HTC phone just to get tethering, and I get none of the integration the playbook/BB combo does. Why didn't they just port BBM and the rest to Android and iOS? Sure it would have made their own hardware less attractive...but then again, it's already unattractive due to it's age anyway.

          It IS a nice chunk of hardware, although quite overpriced and anemic compared to other slabs out there (I love my Transformer).

      2. Jess

        Re: Potentially history repeating

        IBM made the choice not to fully implement the win32 api, had they done so history might have been somewhat different.

        1. Richard Plinston

          Re: Re: Potentially history repeating

          > IBM made the choice not to fully implement the win32 api

          If you are referring to OS/2's Win3.1 + Win32s then it was not IBM's choice.

          IBM had the right to use any released version of Windows and this included Win32s which implemented much of the API. However, OS/2 had been written with a limit to the address space of a process of 2Gbytes. Later versions of Win32s made a completely spurious memory access beyond that limit just so that it would not run on OS/2.

          Windows 95 was also not suitable for running under OS/2 and so IBM may as well just sell Win95 alongside OS/2.

          But in any case the OP is right. Having Win 3.x hosted under OS/2 decided me on whether to develop Windows programs or OS/2 programs (I also looked at various other options including GEM).

          Those paid the bills for a decade or so, but I have been Linux based for a decade and don't miss Windows at all.

      3. Rob Daglish

        Re: Potentially history repeating

        Yes, as one of the two people that used OS/2, the name is a bit worrying. But the PlayBook is a lovely little piece of kit, much better than my Samsung galaxy tab it replaced in terms of usability and build quality. I'd like to see RIM make a success of this as an alternative to the iPad.

        For example, I'm writing this from a school network with a proxy server, without having to root and install random software from the Internet.

        I never missed email as I tend to use my webmail anyways, but had I had it longer before the upgrade it might have been more of a nuisance.

  5. The Nameless Mist

    Setup .. horrific

    I have just spent the better part of two working days trying to get a Curve 8900 on Blackberry OS 4.x to speak with a Playbook.

    Aside from having to upgrade the device to B/OS 5.x, then spending hours with the wretched BB not wanting to install AppWorld via the Blackberry Desktop - which turns out to be a problem with some varaints of v5, only solved by repeated attempts to download it "over the air".

    Then having to hammer away at the machine to install the "BRIDGE" on the 8900, which then prompts for the installation of a "identity update" on the 8900. That only appears to work over WIFI.

    Finally the "oh so simple" BB-to-PB pairing took over a half-dozen attempts with using the "QR code" option.

    The PB's "lecture" on how to do the "swipe up / swipe down" from the border needs a BYPASS option as its infuriating to have to do this on one machine .. let alone repeatedly, and doing it for a corporate rollout will give me RSI.

    The system seems to have a dual-set of icons for "personal accounts" and "bridge mail/calendar etc" and i have yet to find a way to DISABLE the personal accounts, which hog the top 1/3rd of the icon panel.

    Personally I'd rather beat myself over the head with an iPad than issue one of these things.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Setup .. horrific

      Setup when using a less ancient BB is trivial, it takes only a few minutes.

    2. David 14

      Re: Setup .. horrific

      Hmm... sounds like you have a problem understanding BlackBerry devices in the first place, to be honest.

      - You were running an operating system that is N-3 and you had problems upgrading it... not the PlayBook's fault.

      - You had problems understanding how to install and use AppWorld, again, not the PlayBook's fault.

      - You had problems getting the bridge to function... something that worked in seconds on the 4 devices I have configured, so not sure where the issue is.

      - You had a very old phone that you wanted to connected to a new tablet, it was hard for you... okay, my answer to that is so what?

      Deploy an iPAD and then have to get people to use iTunes to sync files, purchase new data plans to the iPADs can work out of WiFi range, and install bridge infrastructure so that you can safely deploy secure corporate applications and data to the iPAD.... etc...

      Wonder which is a better solution?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The main reason why I would not buy it is...

    ...that it is called, "Playbook" but it is aimed at the Business Market! Surely a Playbook is named after a product that you would give to a toddler?


    What company will buy 1,000 Playbooks for their representatives to take to see people?

    "Mr. Smith, nice to meet you... ...oh, what is that?"

    "It's my Playbook."

    "Aren't you here to do my work for me?"

    OK, so, if it were designed for youngsters, who wants to say that they have a Playbook? It is not designed for games.

    What is it for?

    1. W.O.Frobozz

      Re: The main reason why I would not buy it is...

      Remember the two "geniuses" behind this product of them spent far too much time chasing after hockey franchises. I'm betting "Playbook" is more in line with the sports theme.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The main reason why I would not buy it is...

      It's better than buying one with a name like a feminine hygiene product :)

    3. ItsNotMe

      Re: The main reason why I would not buy it is...

      Well kids...there a LOT of coaches on professional sports teams that use Play Books. They don't seem to have any identity problems.

      Maybe it's time for those of you with fragile egos to get a grip on reality.

      1. the-it-slayer

        Re: Re: The main reason why I would not buy it is...

        Reality is iPads are better than Playbooks at most things. Simple explaination really.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Re: Re: The main reason why I would not buy it is...

          Really? care to explain what the ipad does better? People keep spouting such nonsense as if it were fact when the reality is that the playbook does almost everything better than the ipad or any android tablet.

          1. JayKay

            Re: Re: Re: Re: The main reason why I would not buy it is...

            Absolute nonsense from AC.

            If you need to have the benefits of an iPad explained to you, you're better off sticking to your crappy Playbook.

            Sent from my iPad.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You can't polish a turd.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "It's better than buying one with a name like a feminine hygiene product :)"

    So you would rather one that sounds like Gaybook?

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Playbook = wanted an iPad but could not afford one or your employer / wife does not love you.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I am in the hated 1% and can afford pretty much whatever I want. I have 3 playbooks and 2 Android tablets. The Androids have fallen by the wayside as the UI is too clunky and the OS too flaky. No one in the family has asked for an iPad, they are just too big and the browser sub-standard. An iPad doesn't fit in a pocket so If I'm going to carry something that big around I will take one of my netbooks or laptops which offer much more functionality than any tablet.

  10. Kohoutec

    The email client is good looking, and something PlayBook users have been waiting for. Social network integration is limited to Facebook and LinkedIn, so don't expect your Google contacts or calendar to synchronise"

    My Gmail calendar and contacts synced just fine thanks. Whilst the PlayBook is far from perfect this is a damn good update, and makes the 169 quid price seem even more of a bargain.

    1. David 164

      An it only going to get better over the next year as RIM keep on releasing updates, which I suspect will come out a bit faster as they ramp up to Blackberry 10 release, they may as well get things into the wild to let people find and reports bugs they encounter, might as well find some use to all those playbook that RIM is virtually giving away, they must be making a substantial loss . If I am not mistaken Blackberry 10 is design to run on everything and should give them solid foundations to build on in the future.

      If they can get a half descent media store up and running they could move to dominate the teenage markets and then work on maintaining their business customers, the last one it seem the main area they will need to work on is cutting costs for companies, and they will need a new revenue generator.

    2. Sordid Details


      My Google Apps account also sync'd first, calendar and contacts, all there. Bill Ray' subtle dismissal of the PlayBook would be forgivable if he had his facts right.

      1. Bill Ray (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Agreed

        Thanks for the comment, and sharing your experience.

        RIM has been in touch with me to track down what went wrong when we tested the software, but our installation clearly only supported mail synchronisation with Google.

        Since then we've reset the tablet, and set up the account again, and happily report that it's working fine. We'll be amending the story to that effect.


  11. asdf

    RIM is Nokia West

    Brit chavs and a dwindling corporate base are all RIM has left and they were even slower than Nokia to realize they are are on a burning platform.

  12. hibiscus

    Gmail contact work fine

    This article must have been written without actually using the updated Playbook. Although the account page doesn't show a Google logo it does automatically recognize Google accounts and syncs all Google contacts flawlessly. Presumably it also works for Hotmail and Yahoo, but I can't say for sure.

  13. JeffyPooh

    Why the hate?

    It's a $200+ gadget. It's not necessarily a lifestyle statement. Fanboi hatred in either direction is absolutely juvenile.

    The two things that I simply cannot stand are fanboi haters, and people that drive stupid GM vehicles.

    1. bmacsys

      Re: Why the hate?

      The PlayBook was $499 correct? They are taking a bath in this firesale. What happens when the time comes to release another tablet and try to actually make money? Nobody wants a PlayBook at $499. Apple can't keep up with demand at that price for the entry level iPad2.

  14. JeffyPooh

    ^ joke.

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