During the Pre-OS 2.0 era, you could view all your email from your BlackBerry smartphone on your PlayBook using the BlackBerry Bridge feature. To most, this wasn’t enough, but the existence of a link between the two devices inspired BlackBerry nation to come up with a few neat ideas. Some proposed a ludicrous idea of being about to use your BlackBerry smartphone to type on the PlayBook. Others even suggested more preposterous features such as controlling one device’s screen from the other device. Well, RIM listened! I know it’s hard to believe, but crazier things have happened.
Thus the Blackberry remote feature was born. If you’ve got a Blackberry smartphone that isn’t from the Jurassic period (OS 5.0 or later I believe), you can control your PlayBook using either your Blackberry’s touchscreen or the trackpad using Blackberry Bridge. Even though this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a feature like this, it’s something no other mobile platform has natively implemented in consumer devices.
Yes, yes, you might be able to control a tablet using some sort of remote desktop app, but this is different because it actually easy to use and works well. So here’s the low-down. Minimal lag. Gesture support. Works in most apps. Once Blackberry Bridge is working, it’s automatically set up. It even supports slides in PowerPoint presentations. You have many extras like the ability to cycle through apps, open the status bar, use the keyboard and even right click. The execution is well done and impressive to see regardless of whether you’ll use it or not.
In the browser, you can scroll up or down using two fingers, type in text fields, left, right click or even middle click(if you can find a use for it). Of course, it’s not perfect. Using the bezel gestures from the remote takes a bit of skill. I can’t see to get it to work 100% of the time. There also isn’t any support for pinch-to-zoom on the remote, which would a great feature to have.
The remote does come other shortcuts. In my option, you can accomplish these tasks much more easily with the bezel gestures with the remote, so you’ll rarely use them.
I’ve actually started using it with my PlayBook hooked up to my TV. It’s like having a Smart TV without paying any additional money or having a Fisher Price OS. I can view the weather, check your email, open apps, watch a movie, stream TV using the browser, and even play games all from my couch. Well, some games work. Most of the good games like Angry Birds or Plants vs. Zombies don’t let you use the remote though. This may change with a future update, since RIM may be developing a BlackBerry gamepad that we saw last week.
As we’ve seen with the introduction of BlackBerry Bridge, the link between tablet and smartphone has spawned ideas that eventually came into existence. Why not keep the ball rolling? On the Torch 9860, there is lots of screen real estate that could filled in with shortcuts to the PlayBook’s weather app, video store, music player, and other apps. I see the remote function as giving existing BlackBerry owners a reason to stick with the platform. It’s not a feature that will sell on its own, but the concept helps to strengthen the BlackBerry experience as a whole, adding some much needed value to the BlackBerry ecosystem.