Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Google Mobile World Domination Fail, BlackBerry Edition

I've been planning to write this article about several times a day for a couple of months already. And every time, there was the next update that made me think "No, not yet" and abort the attempt.

Until now.

The point is, with all the efforts that Google seems to be directing at the mobile space, their efforts are either failing or backfiring, at least where BlackBerry is concerned.

Usability of applications is getting reduced with every new update.

Worst of all, I'm now starting to see the pattern where spontaneous device reboots that drive me nuts seem to be related to the clandestine Google Updater that runs in the background. Sometimes, it reboots in the middle of a phone call.

Visible notification about new mail in GMail mailbox is gone.

New mail doesn't get into the mailbox until a while later, I have acquired a habit of hitting "refresh" all the time (all right, Google may be concerned about bandwidth consumption, but I'd rather they ask me if I want to wait an hour until they refresh the mailbox contents).

Spreadsheet is marginally usable, if you really need to read the documents.

It is no longer possible to have just the applications that I need (the all-encompassing "Google Mobile App for BlackBerry" replaced it).

It is no longer possible to see whether the application version is the latest (to be fair, Google Updater was always quite flaky as far as new software versions were concerned, and the only way to reliably check whether the new version is available was to manually install the application - current software versions are not displayed on Google site, either).

Bottomline: having used almost all Google applications for quite a while by now, I can say with confidence that most of Google apps for BlackBerry fall severely short in comparison to their usual quality standards.

This scares me a bit - being able to use Google apps was one of selling points of BlackBerry. Now that Android enabled phones are becoming tangible, I wonder what happens to Google's desire to keep BlackBerry (and iPhone) apps with their heads above the water...

Update: New mail notification works with BlackBerry OS upgrade from 4.2 to 4.5.
Update: Visual notification only works if audible notification is enabled. If you disable audible notification, you lose visual as well.

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