—Update: (Un)Rooting My PlayBook, aka GingerBerry, & My General Dissatisfaction with RIM(?)

February 27, 2012

Welp, I bit the bullet. I didn’t want to do it, but that stupid little icon just kept taunting me to upgrade. Fully aware that this would re-secure root access and dash any hopes of running Android Market (which makes it sooo easy to get apps), I decided to take a leap and hope* that someone would crack it again someday. So far I’m okay with my decision. Mind you, I hardly think this will change how I feel about RIM right now, but I’d be remiss not to acknowledge a positive step forward.

So I went ahead and made a backup, and also did a security wipe so I could start with a clean slate. I’ve had upgrade issues before in not doing so, and I suspect DingleBerry screwed something up in dark mysterious ways. The first things that immediately caught my eye were the three new icons on the home row. Messages, Contacts, and Calendar. Bold move (yay…). I’m not trying to do an all-out review here, but sufficed to say they’ve added quite a bit of polish to Tablet OS which I really wish came sooner, you know, like at launch. Many of these additions allow me to do things I originally relied on the Android Player for, with a few exceptions. There’s still no official Netflix or Hulu support, although there’s a Netflix workaround service called PlayON. I’m not really pleased with Netflix’s decision to withhold support for the PlayBook (boycott?). There’s also a minor annoyance in getting email notifications from both the native Messages client and the Bridge App for the same emails, which I haven’t figured out how to change yet. Overall though, I’d say OS 2.0 looks and feels smoooth. I hate to admit it. I have yet to see a crash or stall of any sort, but I know it’s still a little early. It just doesn’t feel like an OS from RIM (I know, it’s QNX). I’ve grown accustomed to spinning wheels and battery pulls when dealing with these guys.

The BlackBerry Bridge App has finally solidified. I used to get phantom notifications or grayed out Bridge icons when linked to my 9780. Most recently right before the update, I couldn’t log into Bridge Messages at all. My guess, it was the recent handheld Bridge App update that broke it. That seems to all have been rectified. I’m really interested in the Remote Control feature which lets me control the PB with my BB. I played with it for a bit but it feels a bit unnatural for browsing when you can just pick up the tablet and peck away at the onscreen keyboard. I tried using it to write this post actually, but it was just too involved for the WordPress.com post editor, so it’s back to the BlackBerry handheld app for me (which is really quite good, kudos WordPress). I’m not sure, but I think WordPress was the first Android app to pop up in BlackBerry App World for PlayBook, at least it’s the first (and only) one I found.

Anyway, I could personally see myself using Remote if I had my PB hooked up to my TV as a HTPC (sort of), which I suspect is its true purpose. However, *Trinity* is my HTPC and she has a full sized desktop keyboard and mouse. Plus, I don’t have a micro HDMI cable to hook the PlayBook up to my TV. Maybe that should have been a complementary accessory eh? It would be great if I could control Trinity with either my PB or BB. There’s actually a PB app called CompRemote for that but the connection lags terribly. I can’t pinpoint the problem, but I suspect it could be Wi-Fi interference.

• • •

(In your face Amazon!)

Although there is now support for Twitter messaging in the new native Messages client, there’s still no official Twitter client which is a bit puzzling. Twitter interaction is limited to @replies and DMs, and for some reason the browser can only connect to the mobile Twitter website, which has a really tiny font and has some missing functions. Luckily I still have an Android Twitter .bar file from my earlier Android exploits, which I was able to sideload with DDPB. I was also able to sideload Kindle (Ha!). They run really smoothly, but they’re not the newest versions (grr). Which leads me to the big glaring con; app availability is sparse at best. Without the DingleBerry root and Android Market access, it’s back to copying Android .apk files and converting them to .bar files to make them work on GingerBerry. Considering I have a few already converted and a stash of .apk files of the apps I need/like, I should have enough material to make this thing suit most of my needs (you can find pre-converted .bar files for various apps here!). I just have to figure out Eclipse and the whole app signing bit. Hey! maybe this will lead to a promising career in developing apps for RIM (psych). I don’t think I want a “free” PlayBook that badly.

It’s quite a feat to essentially run two mobile operating systems on one device simultaneously without hiccup, I have to give RIM credit there. The PlayBook was well designed physically. It’s meritorious to their build quality and engineering, which has generally been good. But their software got stuck in the mud somewhere. I’d say the decision to acquire QNX and augment this new Tablet OS with Android was a brilliant move considering their position. If it isn’t already too late, they should be pouring some of their substantial reserves into mobilizing those Android developers… Pssh, who am I kidding? Sometimes I wonder, could Android be humanity’s future?

—End Transmission

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