Friday, September 11, 2009

New BlackBerry app in beta: KBLauncher

My latest BlackBerry app KBLauncher is finally undergoing beta testing. KBLauncher is an application launcher and switcher. My idea is that a keyboard-intensive device like a BlackBerry would have users that prefer to use the keyboard rather than scroll endlessly with the trackball to find an app to launch. Oh, and I think the UI is pretty slick too.

This has taken longer than I expected. Part of this of course is the nature of a hobby: I can -- and did -- put the project aside when more important issues came up. But the problem is also technical: the vast BlackBerry installed base comes at a cost, and that cost is the large number of models and operating system releases out in the field. The API for launching apps does not behave consistently across releases. Something that was possible in OS 4.2 stopped working in 4.5, and the workaround in 4.5 does not work in OS 4.6. And a bug in 4.6.0 was fixed in 4.6.1. You get the idea. I spent a lot of quality time with various simulators, and while they are a great development tool, they have their limits. Unfortunately, as a hobbyist I don't have full time QA staff nor a stockpile of test equipment.

This is why this beta period is critical for me. It's not a marketing exercise. I am hoping to find a sufficient number of beta testers who care enough that KBLauncher works to report bugs and collaborate with me.  KBLauncher will likely not be perfect, but I hope to make it work fine in the most common cases.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Chris,
    I am a beginner to world of Blackberry and yes indeed I am hooked. Being a Symbian loyalist for so many years, I am amazed by how complicated and how powerful Blackberry can be as a mobile communicator.

    Congrats to you as well as I see that your application finally go release version. I am still in market looking for a good launcher and your KBLauncher caught my attention.

    Just like Vista or Windows 7, I use the Start search function oftenly compared to the usual cascading menu and your application is a welcome utility indeed.

    All the best and I do hope that with up coming newer BB models and OS, your application will continue to refine and support future OS...