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PlayBook App Review: flipStagram

Instagram has been growing to become another big social network, but for a long time BlackBerry users have been left out in the dark. Although I am not the type who enjoys posting pictures everyday, I do not mind checking out my friends’ pictures. A couple of Instagram browsing apps have been uploaded onto BlackBerry App World. I had to only spend two minutes with flipStagram for me to convince me that it was the best Instagram browsing client on the BlackBerry PlayBook.

What you need to know about Instagram Browsing Apps
Before you can even start browsing through Instagram, you will need to create an account outside of this application. This is the limitation of the API that Instagram has provided developers; in other words, developers have no control over this limitation. If you have an Android or iOS device hanging out or have a friend who has one, just use the device to create an account with Instagram. Another drawback to all browsing applications are that, they are strictly used for browsing. You will be unable to upload any pictures of your own without an official Instagram client. For people like me, it did not deter me from purchasing this application.

flipStagram

The Look
Once you have everything set up, you are greeted with a beautiful collage of pictures. The UI is very intuitive with four buttons that open up into a sub-menu. I believe that even the smallest thing counts. The transitions between pictures and loading icons make the application look beautiful. The pictures are not pixelated or grainy and seem to have the same quality images on other devices.

flipStagram Settings

Functionality
Although four buttons might not sound like a lot, they all carry powerful features. The first button lets you view previous photos that do not fit on the screen. The second button allows you to view slideshow of the photos you are currently viewing. The third button allows you to view popular photos, your feed (your friends’ pictures), liked photos, or based on location. After choosing the type of feed you want, you can adjust them to your liking by sorting them or viewing a slideshow. The last button is the settings. Here you can have up to six grid columns that will allow you to view many more pictures at once. The grid size allows you to adjust how many photos you want to view at once which has a maximum of 100. It also allows you to adjust the maximum distance for searching location around you for up to 5000m. Lastly, you can adjust the map view zoom level and the slideshow delay through the settings.

Once you click on a photo, you can view the position of where the photo was taken if it was tagged. You can find more information of the photo based on the time the photo was created and when the caption was created, as well as the filter type and any tags that were attached to the photo. Of course, you will be able to like and comment on the photo as if you were using the Instagram client.

One of the coolest features that I also look for are shortcuts. Right out of the box, flipStagram is loaded with swiping gestures between photos, double clicking to like/unlike, swiping up for fullscreen mode and single tap to see user details. All of this information will show up until you turn them off in your settings.

Performance
Thus far, flipStagram has exceeded my expectations for a 3rd party Instagram client; however, this is where improvement is needed. A picture takes about a second to load, for me, it is forgivable. What I found was detracting from the experience was swiping between photos. Let me put it this way, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Once you bring the picture to the fullscreen, zooming  and moving the picture around does not meet the standard of application smoothness that we usually see today. Hopefully, we will see an update that will address these issues.

Conclusion
This is by far the best Instagram client for the BlackBerry PlayBook. For its looks and functionality, I can forgive the occasional performance issues that comes with flipStagram. At the price of $1.99, I think it is a good deal if you to get a good Instagram browsing experience on your BlackBerry PlayBook.

The Look – 10/10
Functionality – 10/10
Performance – 7/10

Final Score: 9/10

Purchase flipStagram on BlackBerry App World for $1.99

Case-Mate Barely There Case for BlackBerry PlayBook

I'm a big fan of the black matte look of the case. It keeps the back of the PlayBook consistent to its true nature. The backing makes the case a huge plus, as it is not too slippery when handling it. The device is obviously thicker but because of the thin nature of the PlayBook, it feels as if you weren't using the PlayBook with a case.

  • Published in News

BlackBerry PlayBook OS 2.0.0.7971 Released!

This has been the moment all BlackBerry PlayBook users have been waiting for! FINALLY! We have PlayBook OS2.0 in our hands. Quickly hit that "Check for updates" button and start downloading. For those who are upgrading from OS 1.0.8, here are the list of some of the features you will be getting.

New Features

  • Native Email, Calendar, and Contacts
  • Deep integration with social networks
  • Android Apps
  • Bridge 2.0 - Including BlackBerry Remote/Open on PlayBook
  • Folders and Icon Dock
  • Video Store
  • Print2Go
  • Predictive Keyboard
  • LED Functionality
  • A2DP Bluetooth

Updated Features

  • Updated Docs2Go (create and edit PowerPoint)
  • Huge improvements to the Browser (Best mobile browser)
  • YouTube App
  • Video Chat
  • Facebook

So, enjoy the goodness (there is plenty)! As for us, we now will sleep (aka play on our PlayBooks).  Check with us later today for more details.

  • Published in Reviews

Theme Review: Seven Point Five by BBThemes

I'm a huge fan of the the PlayBook icons and the BB7 look on my 9900. Seven Point Five delivers highquality icons without any flaws. Although this is one of my first theme reviews, I tend to be very nit picky about the themes I use and have never been satisfied with themes made by 3rd party theme builders.

The Homescreen
I am all about efficiency when it comes to BlackBerry. I love the look of the BB7 theme but I have always thought the top banner was such a waste of precious screen space on my 9900. The banner includes a battery indicator, clock, date, time, NFC, bluetooth, wifi and "4G" icons. I believe that these are the most common icons that are used for the average user; however, I do miss the network name because I am usually in areas where I have saved more than one Wifi profile on my 9900. The mobile hotspot icon is also missing but I have stopped using it since Bell charged me $90 for 12mb. A few users have reported to have the GPS icon on the top banner but I was never able to see that icon, even on the default theme. Sometimes I did have trouble touching the top banner on my 9900 because of the size, but I think its a good trade off at the end of the day.

In addition to the minimized top banner, the dropdown menu has been extended so you can see more notifications. This is a huge plus for me as it improves the efficiency of use on my BlackBerry. At the same time, you will be able to see four rows of icons instead of three from the default BB7 theme.

The Icons
In the beginning, I mentioned how I love the PlayBook icons. BBThemes extracted those icons and ported them onto the 9900 and, dang it, it looks good. One special feature that Seven Point Five has are the uniquely designed folders. Hit the menu key, add a folder and click the folder icon. Here, you will see a slew of new icons that look very slick and not outdated any longer. I personally throw my email accounts into one folder and was getting sick of my monotone looking folder. The Media, Applications, Games and Instant Messaging folders also sport the new icons that have the same style as the PlayBook.

The Compass and Music Player
Not did the homescreen get a makeover, the compass and music player are both sporting a sleek silver background. I like the new look on the music player with the new progress "dot".

Conclusion
All in all, Seven Point Five is a great theme that sports the classic BlackBerry look fused with the new look from QNX. You get the best of both worlds. If you were worried about the performance of the theme, I did not have any issues with my 9900. I did run into a couple weird folder problems when I first installed it because I did not reboot after I installed the theme. I highly recommend that you reboot your device before you start organizing your icons.

I would give this theme a 9.5/10 based on my preference towards a slightly larger top banner that has the network name. This is probably the best theme out there and $.99 is a steal. This theme currently supports the 9900, 9930 and 9981. Hopefully, this theme will be hitting the Torches and Curves soon!

Buy Seven Point Five for via BlackBerry App World

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