It'll be interesting to see how long Blackberry can hold on. They were once the
default smart phone for businesses, but there's open revolt among users, with
many insisting on something else (usually an iPhone) to the point where many
are opting to buy their own rather than take a company supplied Blackberry.
Equally unusual is an app developer fulfilling their promise of "Blackberry
version coming soon". Well, in this case it didn't come soon, but it did come,
and I never expected it to happen. Perhaps this is only to be expected from the
author of what I consider to be the most progressive of Australian field guides
in terms of usability. First we had text with pictures, a quick index and a
built in bookmark ribbon, now we have a Blackberry app!
Despite the likelihood that, after 7 years as a Blackberry user, I will end up
with an iPhone in a year or so when this contract runs out, I bought and
installed the Morcombe app on my 9800 via Blackberry App World last night
without waiting for a response from the authors asking if the licence can be
later transferred to a different type of phone.
I easily paid by Paypal. The download process wasn't straightforward, mainly
because my home WiFi is dodgy, but it eventually installed the 2MB program. Now
for the 300MB of data. This is where the programmers revealed their
inexperience developing for Blackberries. The precise instructions it showed
when I ran the app said I should now click either the Install button to
download wirelessly, or the Exit button if I wanted to download the data files
on a PC. But there were no buttons.
What it should have said was to press the (physical) Blackberry button and
choose one of those options from the popup menu. This is where, for an
app-weary Blackberry veteran, it gets funnier. You can't click on the menu
options either! It took me a while to think to try tapping the touch screen
instead, and that worked. Blackberry is still coming to terms with the touch
screen, and developers unused to devices with a touch screen, trackpad and a
physical keyboard are forgetting to check that all the input methods work.
But Blackberry apps that don't work properly have been a fact of life for a
long time, and I've seen worse than this so I persisted.
I chose the option to download the data files wirelessly, just to see what
happened. It failed a few times, but managed to get about 30MB of them before I
gave up. With more reliable WiFi, wireless download might be feasible. The fact
that there are many small files and doesn't retry those it already has is good
design that will get you there eventually.
I instead followed the instruction to use a computer to browse to the download
site to download them. The URL given in the instructions results in this
"HTTP Error 403.14 - Forbidden. The Web server is configured to not list the
contents of this directory." I browsed around the site and found the right
place to download them. They need to fix those instructions.
The download on the PC was done with a browser Java app that showed the
download progress, once I'd told it which part of the phone memory I wanted it
in. When it reached 100%, it just sat there, appearing to do nothing. I
expected that it would then show me the progress of loading the files to the
phone, which I'd already connected via USB. Had it already done it? Instead of
assuming it had, I browsed around the phone's memory and found where it was
putting them. It hadn't finished - I could see new files appearing all the time.
I kept refreshing the screen until no more files appeared, and disconnected the
phone. The Java app still just sat there, giving no indication that it was all
finished. They should fix that, or people will end up corrupting their phone
memory by disconnecting before it's done. This kind of install is normally done
via the Blackberry Desktop Manager, which I don't like, and I'm grateful for an
Then I started the app on the phone, and it checked for missing files and
started up. Not the smoothest Blackberry app install I've done, but far from
The app itself is riddled with interface inconsistencies, with some buttons
requiring screen touches, and some requiring trackpad clicks, even with
mixtures on the same screen. All typical Blackberry app stuff, and nothing to
faze the experienced Blackberry user.
I haven't used it enough to comment much on the content, other than it seems to
have roughly the same stuff my compact Morcombe has in it, plus the nest and
egg illustrations. I can find species, look at the pictures, zoom in on them,
scroll between species variations, read the text and listen to the calls. I was
pleased to see that the calls for each species are divided into types, unlike
the BOCA calls, which I assume are more complete but are all lumped into the
one track for each species.
I don't know if there's a trick to it, but I can't get the search function to
come up with any results at all. Surely there is at least one mostly black and
white land species found in Victoria? Does this work for you iPhone users? I'm
not that fussed about this, but I'd like to get it working.
Obviously a few glitches in this app, but I'm looking forward to always having
a field guide with me, and I'd recommend it to other Blackberry users.
Sent: Saturday, 2 June 2012 2:11 PM
To: Murray Lord
Subject: Updated Morcombe app
Strange choice given that Blackberry is apparently only the 6th best
selling OS (depending on which website you look at!) and that it may not be
around much longer. I would have though Android would be a better bet and
then some of the others.
On 2 June 2012 13:49, Murray Lord <> wrote:
> For any iPad owners out there I see that the Morcombe field guide app has
> just been updated, and it will now display properly on an iPad as well as
> an iPod touch or iPhone. In other words it doesn't just look like a
> stretched version of the iPhone app on an iPad any more.
> There was a warning that the update can delete your bird lists if you
> haven't backed them up beforehand.
> I understand a blackberry version is now available too.
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