Thursday, March 3, 2011

More BlackBerry PlayBook Features Confirmed – GPS Mass Storage Mode and More

At a PlayBook event yesterday RIM was showing of a little newer build (though nowhere near what they actually have internally) and I noticed some interesting things. Nothing mind blowing but for those with PlayBook envy like me every detail counts. For example, one of the things that always struck me about the PlayBook was the lack of a blinking LED notification. While that might not be necessary on the PlayBook I was always curious to see how you know their are notifications for you to address.

I happened to see this show up in our demo and as you can see the notification is shown by a slight red highlight in the top left corner. The notification went away before I had a chance to see how you view the notifications but it was simply trying to tell us it was running low on battery.

Here are some other things I noticed or had confirmed:

The BlackBerry PlayBook DEFINITELY includes a GPS built in along with an 6 way magnetometer for augmented reality apps. This will be a cool development. I tried digging through the PlayBook documented API’s and have not found anything about GPS yet…

I asked RIM how you will get video and music on and off the PlayBook and it looks like there will be two ways. There will be desktop manager which will allow you to copy over your music AND backup your device. You will also supposedly be able to mount your PlayBook storage drive and copy music, movies, and more kind of like how BlackBerrys currently work where it will ask you if you want to use USB mass storage mode.

The BlackBerry PlayBook Music app is sweet with some cool features that let you sort and find your music. Who knows it might just totally replace my BlackBerry smartphone for that.

RIM has really improved the touch input on the BlackBerry PlayBook compared to what they were showing at CES in January. The touch controls are very easy and do not require the same double tapping that we kind of needed to do then. Also gestures are super fluid.

I figured out how you put the device to hibernate mode to stop accidental touching. You simply tap the slightly small power button and it goes into sleep mode. Tap it again to wake it up. The device also has a screen saver mode where it simply turns off the screen and I found you could get off that mode by just swiping your finger on the screen.

Also interesting was that you can reboot the BlackBerry PlayBook simply by holding the power button. The demo device took about 30-40 seconds to reboot but that is supposedly even faster in later internal builds. Still rebooting will be far and in between since app installs do not require a reboot and potentially OS updates also do not require a reboot due to how QNX works.

Side loading of apps to a BlackBerry PlayBook from your computer will be possible. From what I could tell OTA installs will be limited to BlackBerry App World for now but who knows. Enterprise users will also have some way of provisioning apps on a device but I couldn’t get more info than that.

Need for Speed for PlayBook is awesome. It is a global setting if you want to allow apps to run in the background like a game or video when you switch apps. They have some fun names for the different modes but my picture of the different names came out fuzzy. :(

Let me know if there are any other questions you wanted answered and I will try to get them answered! Obviously I already asked when it will be released and I am still hearing Q1-ish so think March-April.

Here are some other shots I took of the enterprise SAP apps and other fun stuff at the event:


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