We already talked about the latest v2.1 OS update for the Blackberry Playbook. With the latest software version, came a plethora of new features and improvements for the Playbook.
If you want the full list of improvements and new features in Playbook OS v.188.8.131.522 then be sure to check out our previous coverage!
Three of the biggest improvements in the latest version of the OS are:
- You can now send text messages on the Playbook through Blackberry Bridge.
- Android applications run in their own native window and can be multitasked (multiple apps can run).
- The native Playbook email app now supports portrait style viewing.
We’re going to take a look at each of the features individually, and discuss how they enhance the Playbook experience and whether or not they work as advertised.
Text Messaging on The Blackberry Playbook
Not everyone owns a Blackberry, that much is true. So, if you own a Blackberry device, you can’t just communicate via BBM with family and friends who own an Android or iPhone. Unless of course you download a third party communications or IM app, but that’s a different story altogether.
The new Blackberry Bridge update in OS v2.1 allows you to view and respond to text messages directly via a Playbook. Obviously like with BBM, the Playbook must be connected to an active Blackberry smartphone with Bridge. By default, the option is already selected to manage the Playbook messaging over Bridge so you don’t need to do anything specific to take advantage of the new feature.
Surprisingly enough, Blackberry Bridge can now be used in portrait mode; so now you have the option to choose between landscape and portrait views based on your individual tastes.
Android Applications Running on Playbook in Separate Instances
The Playbook OS v2.0 introduced the option to run Android applications on the Playbook. Unfortunately, every time you open a new app they just open in the same window. That makes it extremely difficult to multitask when running multiple Android applications.
New in OS v2.1 each Android application that is opened will run in its own window. That means you can switch between apps quickly and efficiently. Also, since each of the Android apps now run in their own window, the UI has changed a bit. The active apps no longer appear in the bottom bar.
You can also swipe from the center of the bottom bezel, to the left or right, in order to switch between open Android apps.
Portrait View For Native Email App
Since the release of the Playbook, the device has only supported viewing emails in the landscape view. That means for over a year, there has only been one supported viewing angle for the native email app. We’d guess that explains why it looks a little strange when using the new portrait mode with the Playbook email app.
The user interface of the app itself remains intact. Sadly, Playbook users will still have to wait, until the release of Blackberry 10, to see a strong overhaul. Typing in portrait mode is quite a bit easier though, as you can actually use the standard two thumbs typing method.
Nothing much has changed, except for two new arrows at the top of the screen that allow you to navigate quickly to the previous, or next, email without having to return to the inbox. This is certainly a welcome addition, as it makes a normal email workload tolerable (who truly enjoys responding to emails all the time).
The emails show up on the whole screen, that is they take up the majority of the 7″ Playbook screens real estate.
When viewing the inbox, three options appear down towards the bottom of the screen allowing you to search your email inbox, display your account and email folder list and, of course, there is a shortcut to compose an email. When in an actual email, the standard options appear in the same bottom bar allowing you to delete, reply, forward and more.
The new portrait mode isn’t exactly as exciting as the upcoming Blackberry 10 OS, but it will do until early next year.
Great job RIM!