If your newly-launched tablet is struggling to compete against the likes of the iPad, it’s probably a good idea to make sure that any first-party apps you release really show off its potential. RIM feels differently — at least that’s the impression I’m left with after playing around with the company’s new BlackBerry News app for the PlayBook.

News comes pre-loaded with several popular RSS feeds from traditional content providers such as AP and Reuters, as well as online favorites like Engadget and Mashable. Articles are grouped by categories: headlines, business, travel, technology, science, arts & entertainment, and sport. Wait, my bad — there’s no sports section, so you’ll have to add all that content yourself.

But there’s good news on that front — BlackBerry News lets you add items by searching for site names or URLs and you can also browse through its News Library, a collection of feeds from additional sites which didn’t warrant display when you tap a main category icon for one reason or another. Here you will find sports feeds (SI, ESPN, USA Today, etc.), but each custom subscription gets its own icon. There’s no way to group them as of yet, and more often than not BlackBerry News slaps the default RSS icon on the feed instead of a site’s favicon or logo. You can’t even tap-and-drag items on the My News page to reorganize them.

BlackBerry News does present items in a reasonably nice way, with its “virtual newspaper” layout. But when you tap through, the experience is a roll of the dice. Some items link to the article on source’s website. Some display a nice, clean RSS item in its entirety. Others load a truncated RSS item with no link to continue reading the rest of the content.

I was really hoping BlackBerry News would blow me away, but it’s a halfhearted effort at best. For now, I’ll be sticking with Glimpse on my PlayBook.


Lead blogger at Download Squad at the time of its shutdown by AOL, Lee has moved on to join Ziff-Davis sites Extreme Tech and Geek.com. He's been a contributor before at sister site Liliputing, where he...

5 replies on “BlackBerry News app for PlayBook is another disappointment from RIM”

  1. Seems kind of ridiculous to point out that some articles are truncated and some display the full text.  The difference is based on whether the source allows full display of text.  Same thing happens with flipboard and nearly every other rss/social based reader

  2. Forgive me, but after reading your entire article, I do not see why you
    think it’s another “disappointment from RIM”, other than the truncated
    RSS item with no link to the rest of the article — I don’t like that
    either — but I guess that has to do with the RSS feeds themselves.

    Overall, it’s a great app to me. I load it with all the feeds and read
    it anywhere I want. All those things in one nicely laid out format…

    1. It’s disappointing because some very basic functionality seems to have been left out in order to get the app onto App World quickly…Not being able to group my custom feeds, for example…or even re-order the icons to my liking. It lacks polish, and RIM needs to start making sure its first-party efforts are *really solid* if it wants to stay competitive.

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