BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 hands-on
Well people, the time is finally here after a super long wait, but nevertheless, BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0 is finally available for download. Eager to check out all the new features attached with this major update, we waited patiently for it to download the hefty over 400MB file via Wi-Fi. Once installed, nothing seemed out of place with its overall appearance, as it maintains the same style and presentation as before. However, right away, we’re presented with some new icons sitting pretty in the main app panel bar. So what’s new? Let’s take a quick look!
For starters, we’re finally greeted with native organizer apps for Mesages, Contacts, and Calendar. Honestly, this isn’t necessarily the first time we’re seeing them, since they’ve been made available for those owners who happen to have the tablet connected to a BlackBerry smartphone via the BlackBerry Bridge app. Nonetheless, we’re ecstatic to find these mandatory apps out of the box – without the need of any ‘Berry smartphone. Providing our email address and password, we’re instantly taken to our inbox, where we find the native email client giving us that all too typical 2-panel layout. During the account setup process, it actually also synchronizes our contacts and calendar as well, which again employs a very tablet-like layout. Furthermore, we like how the Contacts apps manages to incorporate social networking accounts, thus, allowing us to view statuses and posts from within the app.
Reader Mode, which as its name implies, makes it easier to read text without the clutter of multimedia content taking up space. It’s nice, but aside from that, there’s nothing else different with the browser. In the productivity side, the software update includes apps like Print To Go and Docs To Go. With the former, users can now print digital files wirelessly, while the latter gives us the ability to edit Microsoft Word and Excel files.
Lastly, Android apps support is now available with the PlayBook, but after looking around the App World, we’re puzzled to try and even attempt which ones are actually Android based. Unfortunately, there isn’t a separate Hub or notation system in place to distinguish which ones are Android, but lucky for us, we’re able to discover and download the Dolphin HD web browser. Yeah, it’s nice and all to see this Android app running on the PlayBook, but it seems more choppy with its performance. Regardless of that, it’s an Android app running on the PlayBook. Right now, there seems to be very few available, but as time goes on, we’d fathom seeing an increase as developers start to bring over more apps.
Let’s be serious here, we’re grateful to see these new features and all, but the bigger question that remains unanswered is why did it take this long in the first place? Without a doubt, the PlayBook is now a full featured tablet out of the box now that we find native organizer apps on board with it. Still, considering that we’ve been waiting nearly a year for it, we were hoping to also see some visual updates to the look and feel of the platform – but sadly, there’s not much of it. Instead, this is what PlayBook OS 1.0 should’ve been, but as much as we can continue lamenting about it all, it’s here, and that’s what matters in the end.