As some of you might now, I’m currently on a 30-day challenge trying to use the BlackBerry Passport as my daily driver. And this is a challenge because I’ve predominantly been using iOS and Android for the past 3-5 years. Of course, the biggest hurdle with getting used to BlackBerry and BlackBerry OS 10 is the lack of apps when you compare it to the other two platforms or even the other three platforms. But I actually found that getting hold of them was not that difficult and the first step was sideloading. So this is a brief tutorial on how to sideload apps onto your BlackBerry 10 device but you really only need to download one or sideload one. And here’s how you do it:
First of all, you have to go into your BlackBerry settings and make sure that the phone is switched into developer mode. This will ask you to input your password of your device. So just make sure that it’s one that’s easy to remember. Just for the sake of having one there. Then you need Chrome browser installed on your Mac or Windows PC. Once you have that installed, you can search for an extension called BlackBerry PlayBook Manager. You’ll find it there, you’ll install it and then you will see the little BlackBerry PlayBook icon just to the right of your search and address field. You launch the app manager and then you can input your settings for your actual device. And as long as it’s connected to the same network, you can put your phone’s IP address in, it will recognize it and then you’re pretty much ready to go. You click on that device and then your device list and you can sideload apps onto your device straight through your Chrome browser so there’s no real software to install on your PC.
It’s not tricky, you don’t need to plug anything in. and it doesn’t take very long at all. It’s very, very simple and that surprised me. Because when I initially heard about sideloading, I thought this is going to be really difficult. But the truth is, it’s not.
Now all you need to do to get Android apps is to search for and install Snap. Snap is essentially a portal or window into the Google Play Store so any apps that are in the Play Store, you should be able to find it in a snap. Once you’ve sideloaded that particular app onto your BlackBerry device, then you never need to sideload anything else ever again. The hard work is done within a few minutes and then you can relax and just install apps just as you want to.
So I installed a few. I think I set my comparison and tried about 10-20 different apps from Snap or different Android apps and a lot of them didn’t work properly. But that’s fine. I installed some of the ones that were most important to me because we use GroupMe a lot for keeping in touch here on PhoneDog Media. It’s a group messaging chat, which is not available on BlackBerry App World yet so I installed that from Snap along with some calendar apps, a wonder list and a few others that I liked to use all the time. And why I say that’s fine is because it actually forced me to look for alternatives in the BlackBerry App World store. I actually enjoyed that process. We get so used to using specific apps on our iOS and Android devices that we sometimes are not aware of the great software that is available for BlackBerrys. And while it’s clear there isn’t as much of it, there is still some really good apps on BlackBerry App World.
And my first point or goal was to try and find a decent Twitter client so I downloaded one called Blaq (not Black as in the color). It’s a fantastic Twitter client that’s really easy to use. Some gestures left and right reveal options. You can tweet, see your mentions, it works with BBM and it works in your Hub; which you can manage through there. So it’s really easy to use though it does cost $2 or Pounds. But it’s easily worth it. I also tried Twitterly (I think that’s what it’s called). That was the first one I actually downloaded but that wasn’t one that I really felt suited me. It really didn’t seem to fit the square screen perfectly.
Of course I downloaded WhatsApp because I still have friends across the world to use that for messaging all the time so certainly I had to have that installed as much as I hate it. Also, one of our readers recommendations, I downloaded iGram; which is an Instagram client for BlackBerry. It works really well. You can view your feed of all the people you follow, you can see your profile. Everything you can do with the regular Instagram app, you can do with iGram. And it still looks a bit odd on the square screen but I’m hoping they’ll optimize that soon. But it’s a decent app. I also installed AccuWeather because it’s got a nice, little widget to go on your home screen that shows you the weather wherever you are, all the time.
I’ve also managed my apps and put them into folders that meet my personal needs, group things together to try out too many different home screens to slide through. And it’s still a work in progress. I don’t think I found all the apps that I really want yet but I’ve got all the cool ones. I’ve got a Twitter client, I have Instagram, WhatsApp, and GroupMe. The one that I really don’t have is Hangouts and that’s because there really isn’t a good Hangouts app for BlackBerry. The Google Talk that comes with the phone is terrible. It doesn’t update in real time or show me images. It’s just horrible to use. I’ve really struggled with Hangouts.
That’s been it so far, I’ll keep looking. If you’ve got any app recommendations, don’t forget to use the hashtag on Twitter #PassportChallenge. You can suggest apps, give suggestions or advice. If you’re a BlackBerry fan addicted to BlackBerry and you know it very well, please feel free to give me some hints and tips.
As much as I’ve been kind of used to OS, having used it for a few weeks now for my review and then again for this week and this challenge, it’s still nice to hear from people who live and breathe this stuff and know it inside out. So give me some tips. Let me know what I should focus in on my next video and see if I can bring some more light to the BlackBerry OS 10 and the Passport.