When RIM launched the BlackBerry Playbook in mid-April, I grabbed one and started using it. You might have noticed that I didn’t write about it the time. The same as other writers, my initial take on the Playbook was that it had a lot of promise but wasn’t ready for prime-time. Some websites didn’t work, there weren’t many apps, and the device itself was a little buggy. I wanted to like it though, and set about figuring out whether I could put my iPad aside, and use the Playbook instead.
Two months, and three software updates later, Playbook has dramatically improved.
- Battery life, which was typically less than a day when Playbook first launched, is now much improved.
- Applications are coming at a steady pace, and several key applications that I depend on my iPad, are now available.
- The biggest breakthrough was a native Dropbox client named Bluebox. Now I can access all of my files from Playbook.
- All of the major newspapers I read on iPad, now have equivalent editions on Playbook. Interestingly, they’ve all chosen to omit the social sharing buttons that are present on iPad. That throws a wrench into my early morning routine – reading the paper on my tablet, and tweeting interesting stories. No equivalent yet exists for FlipBoard on the iPad, but several capable news aggregators (like News360) and RSS readers are available.
- One of the biggest criticisms of Playbook, when it launched, was the lack of a native email client. If you didn’t have a Blackberry to use their Blackberry Bridge application with, then you were out of luck. The same is still true. However, for Blackberry users, the Bridge application provides capable access to email, contacts, calendar, and messenger. The email and contacts experience is very similar to that on iPad, and using Blackberry Messenger on Playbook is light years better than the native experience on a Blackberry device.
The QNX operating system, which is the foundation of Playbook, will also becoming to the Blackberry handset. It will be a profound shift, and it can’t happen soon enough. Playbook is already a better device than the BlackBerry that is its companion, and it’s only going to get better.