The impending arrival of support for Android apps is the biggest news in BlackBerry-land for some time. But until that happens, there’s plenty of smart games and tools out there to keep PlayBook and BlackBerry phone owners sated. Here’s the finest that hit App World in Q3.
1 BBM Music app
This new addition to the BlackBerry Messenger is part social networking service and part music recommendation/sharing engine. For $4.99 per month (that's a shade over £3 in proper money), users get to choose 50 songs from an impressive library of ten million toons to listen to on their handsets. They’re then free to change 25 of them every four weeks.
Here’s the clever bit, though. By adding friends you get access to their nominated 50 songs and so on in perpetuity, presumably until you’ve got yourself a collection worthy of John Peel.
Alas, there’s no UK launch date or pricing yet. But trials are scheduled soon, so keep ‘em peeled.
2 3D Rollercoaster Rush Jurassic 2
Not too long ago, a tech wag drew up a sketch of what Angry Birds on the BlackBerry might look like. It wasn’t pretty. But snipes about Research In Motion’s (RIM) kits’ visual capabilities look pretty wide of the mark in view of the massively improved graphics that the all-new BlackBerry 7 OS brings.
Take 3D Rollercoaster Rush Jurassic 2. It’s bright, cartoony, colourful and could easy be mistaken for the iOS version of the same title – suggesting that BlackBerry owners might soon get the titles they deserve.
It’s also no slouch in the gameplay stakes. Players are tasked with directing a rollercoaster carriage along a track, controlling its speed with onscreen or motion controls. Nothing revolutionary, for sure, but it’s fun and easy to pick up and play. And that’s good enough for us.
3 Crazy Taxi
On consoles, this Sega coin-op racer sometimes felt like it had the shallowest gameplay we’d ever seen. But it’s precisely that’s what makes Crazy Taxi perfect for a mobile game.
In case you’re too young to have get on board with it, the game casts you as yellow cab driver whose job it is to pick up and drop clients while racing against the clock to get them to their destination on time.
Arrive late and you won’t make rent this month and it’s game over in every sense. That means you’ll have to take ruinously dangerous shortcuts, all the while ensuring you’re not so reckless that your petrified fare hightails it from your cab and refuses to pay.
4 Movie Vault
A PlayBook-only title this, which gives users access to a welter of old movies for streaming on your tablet. Don’t expect the likes of Citizen Kane or Metropolis. There’s nothing here that highbrow. But if mondo obscuro, trashy B-movie fare such as Attack of the Giant Leeches and Curse of the Swamp Creature is your kind of thing, you’re quids-in.
It’s unlikely that many BlackBerry users haven’t at least heard of Wakeful – a smart little app that greets you when you wake up with news headlines and weather read aloud. This isn’t a sequel. But the update that arrived this quarter is such an improvement that we felt it merited inclusion in our latest countdown.
That’s because it adds the option to customise the kind of news you get so it dovetails with your interests. Choose from local news tailored to your area, international news, science news and fluffier stuff such as sports and entertainment.
6 Dead Space
EA Mobile’s horror survival-shooter works brilliantly on the PlayBook, with the larger screen real estate easily overcoming control issues that have hampered other similar games on more micro-sized mobile devices.
I’m especially taken with the plasma saw, which is incredibly satisfying for taking out aliens during the endless heated battles with Giger-esque extra-terrestrials. And the muted visuals and atmospheric soundtrack combine for an often-times genuinely disturbing and immersive experience that more than justifies the $9.99 asking price.
7 Moron Challenge HD
Game show contestants’ heat-of-the-moment, none-more-stupid answers are an endless source of hilarity. Proof positive is Wendy Roby’s triffic Universally Challenged book - a compendium of the best ever that’s a LOL-a-minute.
Moron Challenge HD might make you think twice before being so quick to judge, though. Not least because it hinges on seemingly simple instructions and puzzles, which nonetheless prove surprisingly tricksy when you’re put on the spot.
iOS device owners have had plenty of this kind of title to choose from aeons now (CF: Moron Test and its ilk), but this is the first of real note on BlackBerrys. And right now, it’s number one in a field of one.
Guardly is a personal security app that allows users to send an emergency ‘I’m in danger’ message to their nearest and dearest with a single button press, either by phone, email or text to notify them of your plight. Better yet, the missives contains a link to your location so they can pull you out of whatever sticky situation you’re in.
A Pro version is available that adds the option to talk you to your contacts in real time conference calls for a monthly charge. But there’s a free, slimmed down version too, which frankly ought to provide all the peace of mind you need.
9 IMG Edit
As its vowel-shunning title might or might not suggest, IMG Edit is a rather smart image editing app. Like most tools of this kind, it allows you to crop, add colour and effects and resize your snaps. Unlike others, it also lets you scrawl freehand over the top and apply a cool Warhol portrait-style affect to your subjects.
Advanced users can also harness the RGB and HSB feature to alter the colour of their work.
Tweetbook is a smart Twitter app for the BlackBerry Playbook that scores with us for its multi-pane design that makes it a breeze to keep up with busy streams/the minutiae of your nearest and dearest’s social fumblings.
Features take in notifications to your homescreen when you get a new missive, threaded messaging, the option to take snaps with your slate’s snapper and upload them directly to your tweets and support for multiple accounts.