BlackBerry PlayBook 2.0 impressions: Finally, native email and a calendar!

BlackBerry PlayBook 2.0 software

RIM has been promising the PlayBook 2.0 upgrade since the summer of 2011, and today we finally got our first look at a PlayBook tablet with native email, a calendar app, and and a number of other upgrades. While it’s hard to say why it took so long and it may very well be too little, too late for the PlayBook, RIM isn’t ready to give up just yet.

PlayBook 2.0 enhancements we noticed

Email: When the PlayBook shipped in April 2011, it was missing one of the features that made BlackBerry phones famous in the first place: a great, fast native email app. The new email client in the PlayBook looks a lot like the email apps on BlackBerry smartphones (surprise), but the takes advantage of the PlayBook’s 7-inch screen size, displaying emails in multiple columns when in horizontal orientation. RIM has also included some advanced controls, allowing you to easily customize your text with bolding, italicizing, bullet points, different fonts, and a range of font sizes, among other things. A predictive text feature is also nice, allowing you to almost write sentences without any typing at all. Gmail and other Webmail accounts can be integrated.

BlackBerry PlayBook 2.0 email app

Contacts: I didn’t toy around with this much, but this address book app lets you view your BlackBerry contacts as well as contacts from social networks like Facebook. 

Folders and Trays: The slide-up app screen now has a customizable tray for highly used apps. You can customize this. Much like Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) you can now make folders of icons as well, which is a nice addition. Other subtle UI upgrades are also present, which make the OS look and feel a little smoother.

Calendar: The new calendar app also does everything you’d expect. It syncs with Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, and Yahoo as well as Microsoft Exchange and other business email types. Week, month, day, and agenda views are available and, like other features like BB contacts, your data can be synced to other BlackBerry devices and backs up to the cloud. The monthly view also increases the size of the days of the month that have more activities scheduled, allowing you to visually see what days are hectic without having to enter the agenda view.

BlackBerry PlayBook 2.0 calendar app

Android apps: We can’t verify this because there wasn’t a demonstration of it available on any of the PlayBooks we saw, but limited Android support will also be present, allowing hardcore users to side load Android apps. RIM representatives said that the company is working with popular Android app makers to bring some top apps to the BlackBerry App World (RIM’s own app store), but no specifics were provided. Until we hear more about this feature, we can’t say if it will improve the PlayBook experience.

Other upgrades: A new Print to Go app, new business features, a video store, and “enhanced” Web browsing are all present.

Overall, the new software really improves the PlayBook experience. If the tablet would have launched with this software back in April, it might have made more of an impact, but as it stands, the device hasn’t been selling well, and probably won’t sell well. If RIM truly wants to pursue the tablet market, it needs to make Android app support a priority (it’s app selection is meager) and release a new device that doesn’t carry the PlayBook name. Even that may not be enough, but for owners of the PlayBook, this upgrade will finally make your tablet a more worthwhile investment.  


Microsoft Outlook for iOS gets big redesign, with Dark Mode coming soon

Microsoft has deployed a huge redesign for its Outlook for iOS app, which includes new blue branding and some quality-of-life improvements. Dark Mode isn't included, but it's coming soon.

How to use Drop In and Announcements on Amazon’s Fire HD tablets

Amazon is giving some Fire HD tablets a big update. The tech giant released a software update that adds Drop In and Announcement modes to the Fire HD 8 and Fire HD 10. Here's how to enable the new features on your Fire HD tablet.
Digital Trends Live

Digital Trends Live: Harlem Globetrotter Big Easy talks new app, favorite gadget

We welcomed Harlem Globetrotter Nathaniel Lofton to talk about how he became a Globetrotter 14 years ago. Big Easy also told us about the brand-new Harlem Globetrotters app that is now available on Android and Apple.

Vanquish lag for good with the best routers for gaming

Finding the best routers for gaming is no easy task. With so many out there, how do you know which to pick? We've looked at the many options available and put together a list of our lag-free favorites.

Beddit Sleep Monitor 3.5 now available on the Apple Store

The Beddit Sleep Monitor 3.5 is now available on the Apple Store for $150. The sensor strip, which is only 2 millimeters thin, automatically tracks a wide array of sleep data when placed under the user's sheets.

Save up to $750 with the best smartphone deals for December 2018

Need a better phone but don't want to spend a fortune? It's never a bad time to score a new smartphone and save some cash. We rounded up the best smartphone deals available that can save you as much as $750.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Folding canoes and ultra-fast water filters

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

Google to end support for Android devices running Ice Cream Sandwich

Anyone with an old phone that is still running Android 4.0 may want to look into upgrading their phone, as Google has announced that it will be ending support for this older version of Android.

Amazon knocks $30 off its Paperwhite ebook reader in limited-time deal

Amazon is running a couple of limited-time deals for its Paperwhite ebook reader. One offers a $30 discount, while the other throws in a pair of headphones and a free, extended Audible trial.

New Galaxy S10 leaks showcase display sizes, confirm headphone jack return

While we still may be months away from an announcement, there's no doubt about it: Samsung is working hard on its successor to the Galaxy S9. Here's everything we know about the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S10.

Android 9.0 updates to stretch into 2019 -- will your phone get a slice of Pie?

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.

LG G7 owners experiencing dreaded bootloop will have to wait a few days for fix

If you’ve picked up LG’s flagship and it’s not behaving itself, then you might find a solution here. We’ve rounded up the most common LG G7 ThinQ problems and tracked down workarounds and possible fixes.
Product Review

The iPad Pro is the best tablet ever. But don't sell your laptop just yet

Apple has unveiled a big redesign for the iPad Pro, slimming down the bezels, adding Face ID, and the ability to attach and charge the Apple Pencil. All of this comes at a high cost however, as the iPad Pro starts at $799.

A render video gives us a 360-degree look at the midrange Pixels

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are considered to be two of the best Android smartphones, but it looks like Google could be prepping a midrange line. Say hello to the Pixel 3 Lite and Pixel 3 Lite XL.