BlackBerry AppWorld Lets Users Sideload Apps from PC

 
 
By Andrew Garcia  |  Posted 2010-10-29 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

BlackBerry AppWorld now allows PC users to find and purchase BlackBerry applications from the desktop, as long as the BlackBerry device is cabled to the PC.

BlackBerry AppWorld application catalog for BlackBerry smartphones now includes the ability to shop for and purchase mobile apps from a PC Web browser. While the new capability represents a long-needed enhancement, the implementation was a little hard to work with, requiring some steps that shouldn't have been necessary.

Specifically, the new AppWorld lets Windows users peruse the app catalog from a Web browser (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox are all supported). Using the required Web browser plug-in, I could then purchase and download apps, while at the same time installing the app on a USB-connected BlackBerry.

With previous iterations of AppWorld, I could see a subset of the available AppWorld inventory from the PC, but I could only message a link to my BlackBerry Bold 9700 so I could acquire the app directly from the smartphone.

In August, RIM released AppWorld 2.0, which provided the foundation for the latest features. Whereas AppWorld 1.0 required the use of PayPal for payment-and used the PayPal credentials for the AppWorld account-version 2.0 required users to create a new BlackBerry ID for login. With the new ID, I could now download free applications or purchase for-pay applications using a credit card, and I could associate my PayPal account to the new BlackBerryID to ensure that previously purchased apps were migrated to the new account.

To use the PC version of AppWorld, I needed to log in to my BlackBerryID account and install the Web plug-in that facilitates the transfer to the BlackBerry device. I found that, if I were not logged in, I could search for applications from the search bar, click through the categories listed, or view lists of Top Free and Paid apps, or view a list of the newest additions to AppWorld.

When looking at categories, I found I could filter on free or paid applications or sort the lists by price, rating, or other elements. I was disappointed to see that any filtering or sorting rules I enforced would not stay in effect if I switched to a different top-level category.

On the page for each individual app, I could see a list of supported devices and BlackBerry OS versions. Once I logged in with the BlackBerryID, however, I would only see whether my specific device is supported for each viewed application.

I was disappointed to find that, in order to purchase an app from the Web browser, the BlackBerry must be attached to the PC via USB. Otherwise, I would get a Device Disconnected error message, stopping the purchase process until the device was connected. With the device connected to my PC, however, I could complete the purchase and sync the app to the smartphone via the sideload.

When logged into the browser-based AppWorld, I found I could access a page called MyWorld, which contains a list of all the applications bought or downloaded previously, which nicely shows any pending upgrades that have not yet been completed. With the BlackBerry connected via USB, I could also see exactly which applications are currently installed through AppWorld-although apps not available for distribution through AppWorld (such as Opera or Google Mobile) will not show up. From MyWorld, I could also remove applications from the tethered smartphone by simply unclicking the checkbox next to the app, then pressing Sync Now. A warning will appear within the Web browser if the device needs a reboot to complete the removal.

I had hoped the new features would enable over-the-air installations to my BlackBerry, envisioning that I could buy a new app from my desktop and then add it to MyWorld, from where I could push it down over-the-air to my Bold 9700. I also hoped that I would be able to log into MyWorld from the BlackBerry and see a list of pending applications to pull up a previously purchased applications. Neither, however, is currently possible.

 


 
 
 
 
Andrew cut his teeth as a systems administrator at the University of California, learning the ins and outs of server migration, Windows desktop management, Unix and Novell administration. After a tour of duty as a team leader for PC Magazine's Labs, Andrew turned to system integration - providing network, server, and desktop consulting services for small businesses throughout the Bay Area. With eWEEK Labs since 2003, Andrew concentrates on wireless networking technologies while moonlighting with Microsoft Windows, mobile devices and management, and unified communications. He produces product reviews, technology analysis and opinion pieces for eWEEK.com, eWEEK magazine, and the Labs' Release Notes blog. Follow Andrew on Twitter at andrewrgarcia, or reach him by email at agarcia@eweek.com.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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