Whether you bought a BlackBerry PlayBook way back on April 19th of last year, or if you took advantage of the recent price drops, there is good news. The long awaited update to the BlackBerry PlayBook is finally upon us and BlackBerry PlayBook owners can now download and install the update. This update brings a number of expected features such as an updated homescreen, on device (native) Email, Calendar and Contacts apps, and also a number of unexpected but very cool features. If you have a BlackBerry PlayBook, you’ll want to download this update ASAP. At 400-500MB in size though, make sure you have access to a high speed wireless connection first!
The new PlayBook update brings a number of new and updated features, including:
Advanced Messaging App – This is much more than just a basic email app, bringing together a unified messaging experience in which you can send and receive emails and messages from other messaging services like Twitter and LinkedIn. Also expect a more desktop like experience with the ability to multitask and write emails in rich text. So if you need to reference other emails repeatedly while composing a new email and you want to throw in things like bullets and use different fonts, etc? No problem. You can easily switch between messages without having to save your draft. It also includes the ability to set signatures or out of office messages directly from within the app.
Calendar – Although you will have access to all basic calendar functions in the new Calendar app, you will also be able to do more as the calendar will allow you to search appointments based on the person, and it will bring together information about that person from different areas so that you can get all the info you need before a meeting.
Contacts – Again, this is more than just your basic address book. Sure, you'll be able to put in all the regular info, but you'll also be able to bring in other info, such as social media (e.g. Twitter) connections. The info therein will integrate into the messages and calendar apps and each contact file will show things like recent status updates, and much more.
Documents To Go – This app is getting some much needed improvements, including the ability to edit embedded charts and sheets, a new formula wizard with more than 100 functions and enhanced support for the virtual keyboard.
Print To Go – This is one of those new and unexpected apps. With this app, you’ll be able to print from your Windows based laptop or PC directly to your PlayBook. To start, you’ll need to download the software to your computer (available at http://blackberry.com/PrintToGo). Once that is installed, you will be able to wirelessly print essentially anything as a digital printout to your PlayBook, just as if you were printing to paper. So you’ll be able to “print” hotel and airline bookings, maps, documents for review, etc.
Remote Control for the BlackBerry PlayBook – How cool would it be to be able to use your BlackBerry to control a cursor on your PlayBook, or even better, how would you like to be able to use your beloved BlackBerry keyboard to hammer out those messages instead? Well, now you can! Just make sure you update your BlackBerry Bridge app on your BlackBerry smartphone. Using this feature, you will be able to plug your PlayBook into your TV and then control it from the couch using your BlackBerry – so that means that if you need to stop the playback on a movie, or you want to play a game of Monopoly on the big screen, you won’t need to sit right in front of your TV. This will also be great for controlling presentations.
Improved Keyboard – One of the complaints a lot of people made was that the keyboard often took up too much screen space, so RIM has made it a bit more narrow, allowing you to see more of your screen. But that’s not where the real improvements lie. RIM has also introduced something that most users have been hoping for: autocorrect and word prediction. I don’t know how many times I’ve gotten frustrated at my PlayBook wondering why pressing Space twice doesn’t automatically insert a period, or why I can’t just type “il” and get “I’ll”. Yes, its minor, but it’s an annoyance, nonetheless. Well, great news, the PlayBook OS 2.0 has brought that, and more. The new word prediction function is so good that you can type entire meaningful sentences with the input of just a few letters.
File Manager – This was another of those glaring omissions in the original PlayBook software, but RIM has listened and has finally introduced a File Manager. Now you’ll be able to more easily search for or delete files. Yes, it’s a simple thing, but it’s a useful tool.
Reader Mode – This browser mode enables users to view webpage content in an easier to read format that focuses on the content, rather than the ads, etc. In other words, it helps you focus on the important stuff.
New Apps – In addition to the recent releases of Angry Birds, Cut The Rope, Plants vs. Zombies and others, the PlayBook OS 2 update will also bring a whole onslaught of Android apps to the PlayBook, so get ready to spend a lot of time scouring App World for the newest and greatest.
BlackBerry Balance and Mobile Fusion – For those of you who manage IT at work and want to ensure that your coworkers are able to do their work on a secure system that is separate from their personal info, RIM has also introduced BlackBerry Balance and BlackBerry Mobile Fusion. These systems will improve device manageability, provide the ability to secure, manage and control confidential corporate information, and overall increase corporate security for the security minded companies.
Video Store – Although this is only expected to launch in the United States right away, Canadians should also get access to the BlackBerry Video Storefront later this year. This will bring new release movies, TV shows and more for purchase or rent when it does become available.
How to install the PlayBook OS 2.0:
To update the software on your BlackBerry PlayBook, you can either wait for an update notification to appear on your PlayBook in the top right corner, or you can manually update by going to Options, then Software Updates. Click on the button to check for updates, and proceed with the download. Once the download has completed, the update should install automatically. After a reboot, you’ll be up and running!
How to install the BlackBerry Bridge Update:
In order to use the new features such as the BlackBerry Remote, you will need to upgrade your version of BlackBerry Bridge. If your BlackBerry smartphone has not already prompted you to download the new version of BlackBerry Bridge, you can get the update by going to BlackBerry App World, go to My World, press the BB Menu button and select Refresh. You should now see the BlackBerry Bridge update show in your list of installed apps. If you do not have BlackBerry Bridge installed on your BlackBerry smartphone, you can find it on App World by searching for BlackBerry Bridge in the search box.
I will attempt to follow this up with a review once I’ve had a chance to play with the official version, but in the meantime, feel free to download and explore it yourself!