Sunday, September 4, 2011

BBM Music...and why I think it's awesome!

It seems as though not a day goes by where we open a newspaper, watch the news on TV or view a website with another "doom and gloom" article about RIM:  how they are losing market share in North America, how their stock price has dropped or how their devices just aren't up to date.  It has become quite disheartening for die hard fans like myself to constantly hear bad things about a device that you love!  Now, it would appear that things are on the upturn.  RIM's stock price is up, thanks in large part to the new devices released with upgraded processors and running the latest OS-7.  Having just received my new BlackBerry 9860 and with my wife using her new 9900,  I can tell you these new devices (and OS) are pretty darn sweet!

A few weeks ago RIM announced a new music service which ties in to their strongest product: BBM.  The premise is simple: use BBM to share music of all types (for a nominal monthly fee).  The blog world erupted with the typical anti-RIM sentiment once again.  It was said by almost all bloggers that the service was too expensive,  a 50 song limit was unheard of and ridiculously small, BLAH BLAH  BLAH!

I'm here to tell you why I think it's brilliant and why I think it could be a HUGE product for RIM.  It could even turn into something Apple would be jealous of (HA! yeah, I said it!)

BBM Music is currently in a closed beta test, but you can read about it here.  Members of BlackBerry Beta Zone can request to test it or can be invited by a friend who is currently testing it.  Once installed, you basically choose 50 songs you like and want to share (this is a lot harder than it sounds).  These songs are "in the cloud" NOT on your device.  Although once you choose songs they will be cached on your device.  I chose some old school funk/rap/R&B from the 70's and 80's as my songs.  I was amazed at the selection of songs (considering the age of the music I was looking for).  I then invited some friends to share my songs via BBM.  Now I know what you're I'm supposed to pay for 50 songs and then share them with my friends?  But I don't have that many friends that have BBM.  This is the cool part!  There is a section on BBM Music that shows recent updates (similar to what you have inside BBM).  As your contacts add more contacts, you just add them too.  Each person you add adds 50 songs to your available playlist.  Even better, you don't have to add these people on BBM, only on BBM Music.  You can even block people from trying to add you to BBM if you choose.

Inside the app itself, you can search for songs, comment on songs, create playlists and even share those songs or playlists via email, BBM, BBM groups etc.  Very cool and very social.  You can block a song you don't like and delete people entirely if you don't like their tastes in music.

Now you still may not see why I think this could work ... Most people get hung up on two things:  the cost and the 50 song limit.  Lets look at both of these items separately.

Cost:  The price will be (subject to change) $4.95/month.  To me, this service is similar to satellite radio.  No commercials, no interruptions and access to more songs than you ever imagined.  I pay almost $10/month for satellite radio IN MY CAR.  The only other place I can listen to it is online when I'm in front of my computer.  This is half the cost, and on my BlackBerry, which is with me 24/7.

50 song limit:  STOP!  Just STOP!  This kills me, because it's all about interpretation.  Sure YOU can only choose 50 songs, but so can all your friends. I'm sure the 50 song limit was created by the record companies, and if I'm being honest, creates the whole fun of the app.  You HAVE to share your songs with other people to get a decent amount of songs.  So if you have 145 contacts (like I do) that can equal 7250 songs.  That's a lot more than I currently have on my 32 gig memory card.  It also brings something that I bet most of us don't have much of on our phones...variety!  Let's face facts, if you don't like a certain genre of music, you won't download it, never mind pay for it!  This way you don't have to!  But you get to listen to music that you usually wouldn't, and you never know, you might actually like it!  If you don't, just block the song or the contact entirely.  If you do like a song, share it with your BBM friends.  All your current friends songs are also cached on your BlackBerry as well as your own for offline (no network) listening too.

Where can I see this going?  Well for starters, a contact inside a BBM group I have (Thanks Sahil) suggested that radio stations join the service.  They can update their Top 50 songs and share them with listeners.  Every radio station has an online presence and almost all have a "listen online" option.  This would take the experience to a whole new level!  Imagine radio stations advertising their Top 50 tracks.  It sure would make it easy to know what radio stations you prefer to listen to. Now look at it from a record company's perspective.  Create an account to share new artists of any or all genres...  Brilliant!  Anyone in the music business can find a use for such a service...and all for only the cost of a BlackBerry and $4.95/month.

To the people that say it won't work?  I say this:  There are currently "only" 100,000 members in the BlackBerry Beta Zone, not all of which even have access to this beta, plus some RIM staff also testing.  So the current test group is pretty small.  Most of my contacts LOVE the program.  I'm sure there will be quite a few who will choose not to pay the monthly fee, BUT, BBM has over 50,000,000 active users and that number is growing by the month.  Even if only a small percentage of people join, there will still be more than enough people to make it work.  I personally think that it will be a much larger percentage!

What improvements could be made?  As with any beta program, there is room for improvement.  One thing I would like to see is the ability to browse a contact's music PRIOR to adding them to your list.  It would just save me from deleting them later if I don't like their music.  A PC/Web based version of the program to allow us to listen on our computers and PlayBooks would be awesome.  The ability for the program to include any music already on our existing memory cards would be great too.  One other thing that I find VERY odd is a lack of ability to "show what I'm listening to" like in BBM.  There should be a tag line to promote the service.  Something like "I'm listening to xxxxx by xxxxx via BBM Music".  The only other issue I currently have is that there seems to be a contact list limit.  I'm really hoping that this is just for the beta test and not permanent.  Payment abilities are still up in the air.  I'm hoping that the monthly fee will be able to be added to your phone bill because I can see a PayPal only payment system hindering the app enormously.  One other question mark currently is data consumption.  BlackBerry carriers have a very wide variety of data packages available, from huge unlimited packages to the teen oriented social packages,  some of which do not include any browsing capabilities.  How will BlackBerry and RIM get around that?  I guess time will tell.

All in all, this app is one of the best things to come out of Waterloo in a while.  It certainly has the ability to go viral and spread amongst the teenage groups around the world who so dearly embrace BBM as a necessity of life.  It also appeals to someone like me, who is a bit older and may squabble less about the monthly fee ;-)


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

All About My BBM (BBM 101+)

Hey folks, its been quite a while since my last post.  I've got a new video for you!  BBM is THE most popular app on the BlackBerry OS, and for most of us it is one of THE reasons to have a BlackBerry.  Did you know how powerful an app it really is?  Sending videos? Music? Pictures? Voice notes?  Watch the video and find out about all these things and more. Please let us know what you think.

AllAboutMyBB does not condone the illegal sharing of copyrighted materials such as songs or videos.  We will not be held responsible for excessive data charges incurred while transfering these large file types.  Please check with your carrier PRIOR to attempting to send large files via BBM.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Invite people via a calendar event

Here is a quick little trick for #TeamBlackBerry!

I use my calendar app quite frequently for both work and personal appointments.  If I have a meeting with a client, I put it in my calendar and set a 1 hour reminder to allow me time to get there (even if I forget I had an appointment).  I also use it for Doctor's appointments, car service appointments etc.  Did you know that you can share those appointments?  Ever since OS 4.5 you have been able to invite people to a calendar event.  This feature is similar to Microsoft Outlook's meeting requests, and all you need is an email address of the person(s) you wish to invite.
Here's how to do it:

 Open up the calendar app and select create new appointment.  Choose the email address you wish to send the invite from (you have a calendar for each email address you have sent to your BlackBerry).  Fill in the Subject, location and time.  Set the reminder for your preferred time.  Now click the menu button, and select invite attendee.  Select the person(s) from you address book that you wish to invite.  I always invite my wife to my Doctor's appointments, so she knows when they are :-)  You can add more than one person if you like.  Once you have finished adding people and you save the event, your BlackBerry will send a request via email to your friends.  But gets better!  If your friends have a BlackBerry also, they can actually accept or decline the appointment right from their BlackBerry.  If they accept it, it is automatically added to their calendar aswell!  If they decline, they can add a reason why and send it back to you.  You will be notified if they accept or decline it.  All names you invite will belisted in the calendar event for you.  What do you think?  Pretty cool stuff?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

BlackBerry Protect

Just released (in open Beta) is a new app for BlackBerry called BlackBerry Protect. This free app runs in the background on your BlackBerry and is a very powerful tool. Not only does it offer wireless backup of your device info (think no more desktop manager back-ups!) But if your family is like mine (we all have a BlackBerry) it's a great way to keep an eye on your family. Let's take a walk through this app.

First thing you need to do is download the app itself here:

Once installed you will need your BlackBerry ID. This is the same one you use for Appworld.

Setup options include allowing location finding (this is unchecked by default, but to use all the features you should check it). Other options include how often to perform a backup, only backup via wifi, and backup while roaming.

Now that you're setup, let's talk about some of the features of BlackBerry Protect.  The following screen shots are of the web-portal that can be accessed at where you will be required to login using your BlackBerry ID. 
-View current location: If your BlackBerry is stolen or mispaced, you can use this feature to view its actual location via the phones built in GPS (some models don't have a GPS, so it won't work on those). A feature I found VERY useful (that wasn't really advertised).  If you have multiple BlackBerry phones in your family, you can sign them all up with the same BlackBerry ID (I used mine for all 4 of our phones).  This allows you to log in and check/modify all phones with one login.

-Loud ring:  Imagine the scene.  You're running late for work, but can't find your BlackBerry.  The last person to use it was your kid, and they left it somewhere.... You try calling it, but its on Vibrate.  With BlackBerry Protect, simply login to the web-portal and select "Loud ring".  This makes your BlackBerry buzz, chime and beep no matter what sound profile it is on.  Locate your phone and head off to work!  Brilliant!

-Display a message: Imagine losing your device!  Most of us can't stand the thought of such a thing ever occuring.  What if you wanted to send the finder of your device a message asking nicely for them to return it to you, and how to reach you?  Use this feature to display a message on your device (even if it was locked when you lost it).  The first picture shows what the message would look like.  I can also see this feature being handy when your child is out passed curfew, and you want to get their attention :-)

-Lock your device:  In keeping with the idea of losing a device, this feature will lock your BlackBerry, keeping any prying eyes from snooping your private info!

-Wipe your device:  Always a last resort, but very important for business people.  This allows you to remotely wipe all your personal info from your BlackBerry in case of emergency.

On device App settings:  Here is a screen shot of the app on my BlackBerry Torch.  You can see that on the main screen the only option offered are the Only backup over Wi-Fi, and allow backup while roaming.  The buttons on the bottom (from left to right are) Backup, Restore, and Messages. 

Pressing the menu key and selecting options will give you a greater choice of options which include: The ability to automatically backup daily/weekly/monthly.  What data to backup.  This includes: Contacts, Calendar, Tasks, Memos, Browser Bookmarks and Text messages.  The final option is to allow location reporting (required to use mapping feature listed above).

All in all this app is truly a must have for BlackBerry users.  I strongly feel that BlackBerry has created a free service that offers huge functionality and unbeatable security for its users.  No cords, no fees AND no worries!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Hiding Pictures (and unhiding them)

Have you ever taken a picture with your BlackBerry that you really didn't want to show up when you (or your friends) browse your phone?  Did you ever take a "private" picture that you sent to a special person, but want it hidden from plain sight?  Whatever reason you may have (I'm not judging ;-) for wanting a picture, video or file hidden, here is how!  The method is the same for a picture, video or file just the location of the file will change. 

Go in to your media folder, select pictures and locate the picture you wish to hide.  Highlight the name of the file and press the menu key (BB button).  Select "properties".  From here you will see all the file info, including name, size date created, and at the very bottom a small checkbox that says "hidden".  To hide the file simply check this box.  When you exit out of the folder the file will be hidden.

Ok, now that we've hid it, lets go find it!

Open the media folder, push the menu button and select "explore".  This opens a file browser similar to the  last image attached.  hit the menu button once more and select "show hidden".  Now navigate through the folders and find your file.  If it was a picture you hid it will be in either BlackBerry/pictures folder, or BlackBerry/camera folder on OS6 devices.  A video will appear in the BlackBerry/video folder.  

Once you've done this a couple of times it actually becomes quite easy to do.  Please drop a comment if this article helped you.  Check us out on Twitter @allaboutmybb


Saturday, January 1, 2011

AutoText/Word Substitution

In your everyday use of your BlackBerry, you may notice that some pretty cool things happen when you type. If you type the letter I it automatically capitalizes. If you press the space bar twice a period will go behind your last word, and the first letter of your next word is capitalized. It can also fix misspelled words like acn (can) and will change alot to its proper form: a lot. There are some hidden ones too. Try typing mypin or mynumber or myver and see what happens :-)

Did you know that you can add things to the list? Small additions to your AutoText can make typing much quicker. One of my favorites that I created for myself are smiley faces. I created short cuts for
:-P  :-(   :-)   :-D
To use when typing in BBM or an email. Having to use the alt key to get at these keys is a pain. So I use "words" to create them. For example hud = :-D and hup = :-P and huy = :-)
 I even made a FU = (•͡. •͡)┌П┐

I also use d to make the word "the". In the attached pics you can see that I also made one for bb (BlackBerry, with the proper capitalization).

It can also be used in BBM for all those hidden emoticons that were posted on the internet a while back.  The bblogo and boombox in the above picture.

How to make one:
In OS4.5 and OS5

Click options, then click AutoText. Once in this window, take a look at all the existing entries, so you know what is already there. Then to create a new entry, click the menu ( ) and select NEW. Enter under "Replace" the word you wish to replace (like bb). Then enter under the "With" the replacement word. Smartcase will capitalize the word if its at the beginning of a sentence. Specified case will leave the word exactly as it appears in the "With" section.

In OS6

From the home screen, type word sub and click on the Options icon. From there is exactly the same as above.

You can use this to replace your initials with your full name or even for a website url. If you create them as you think of them, it can make your typing a lot quicker :-)