Tag Archives: Google Play

How To Make Your Android A BlackBerry

blackberry (Photo credit: arrayexception)

So you accepted the peer pressure and finally decided to move to Android from BlackBerry.

The Blackberry experience is an all inclusive flow, in which the experience is about you, the user. For this, I love Blackberry.  Most people who never had the opportunity or patience to try Blackberry believe the only thing it has is BBM. There is more to Blackberry than BBM. Fine, the app catalog is atrocious. But the intrinsic basic phone features are deeply thought out.

For a legacy Blackberry user, Android is too much work. The first thing you shall notice on android is it operates like an operating system. Android is built in a way in which every aspect operates stand alone.Basically Android provides a base upon which, like Windows, you add on the wallpaper, software and utilities you require to suit your needs.This is a good think for a tinkering techie seeking “freedom”, but for someone who wants to buy a functional phone that has been thought out for you in advance, Android is not the best option. The fact that the apps are not built to work with each other sometimes creates issues, one app interrupting or crashing another.

That first week is hard, very hard. You will be excited about the new apps that you now have access to. But from the GUI,games,tools,utilities to deep system functions, Android is suited towards the user tweeking and tinkering every aspect of the phone. The absence of several things will shock you. Having to configure others will shock you too. Fortunately, on Android there is always an app for your needs.

So here is a list of apps for things you take for granted on Blackberry that you require to make your Android life better.

EMAIL: BIS and BB Email System is what any hardcore BlackBerry user swears by. For Android, you have Exchange By TouchDown Key, Under Notrodesk Inc. It is the best Exchange client system on Android.

DOCUMENTS: Blackberry has the ability to view and work on documents, its a business machine. To replicate this on Andorid, use QuickOffice, an excellent documents for mobile service acquired by Google. With PDF support, QuickOffice is the document app of choice on Android. A similar third party app is Go Office Pro.Both also allow you to plug in to documents stored in the cloud on your Google Drive.

SMS SENT TIME: This seems rather foolish, but some Android platforms do not show the time a sender sent you an SMS. Crazy right? Samsung and a few others correct this defect, but some stock android ROMs do not show SMS sent time. Fortunately there is an app for that. SMS Sent Time on the Google Play store.

AUTOREDIAL: If you ever needed to autoredial someone, a feature that comes in built in all basic phones, and on BB, on Android, you require an APP for it. The App is Auto Redial on the Google Play Store.

BB KEYBOARD: Blackberry with their long experience in QWERTY have really done an excellent job with the keyboard. Fortunately for Android folks, there is Swiftkey and Swype. This doesn’t replicate the BB experience but it gets close.

NO BLACKBERRY HUB!! If you have used Blackberry Hub, then you will be distraught at Androids communication experience. The BB hub provides a unified communications hub for tweets, facebook, SMS, Call notifications and alerts,DMs,Emails and other third party apps like Viber and Whatsapp.  To attempt to replicate this experience, download Droid Hub from the App store. Messages+ also on the appstore handles multiple messaging apps in one interface, but still cannot match BB hub.

SMART AUTOMATED ACTIONS:  Blackberry Z10 users talk about Bedtime mode. Like how placing the phones face down, a call is cancelled or goes on vibrate? Or past Ten O’ Clock certain notifications are muted? Or certain times trigger certain actions? Or low battery levels triggers energy saving settings on apps and on the phone? If you want this on your Android phone, download AutoMateIt on the App store. This app enables you to customize automation rules, you set the trigger or set of triggers which will push an action, which is saved as a rule. This can replicate your bedtime mode experience and more.

SEARCH: Its weird that the mighty Google cannot muscle phone search the way Blackberry do. This I am afraid is something you would just have to get used to. BB search is universal and smart, working with and into the whole phone. It searches apps, contacts and actions to them as well! For example to send a text to Jane, if you search “text Jane” it will  open your SMS box with the recipient being Jane. Android unfortunately cannot give the same effect.

BBM:  BBM is finally available for Android, so get this on the app store.

 SIMPLICITY:  Androids interface is like constantly working on DOS, and at the same time layering upwards to Windows type GUI. Honestly, one really does not need to constantly be in the engine of their device. On BlackBerry, what you saw was what you got, with few GUI and theme changes, giving you routine, which leads to ease and productivity in how you interact with the phone, in as few clicks as possible.

Many Android users find themselves constantly deleting and adding applications and features, constantly swiping and clicking even when they are doing nothing with the phone.

As a former blackberry user who is used to the phone as a tool, both for work or play, using it when it needs to be used,this can get very annoying, and can make one very exasperated.

the cure for this is downloading a minimalistic Android Launcher like Smart Launcher or Aviate.


Utilise these minimalist launchers after having implemented all the app changes above and you will have a very smooth and productive Blackberrylike Android smartphone experience.

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Streaming Music

A few opening statements to sum up this very intense post:

  • It seems someone somewhere decided that Grey and Black are the best colours for music playing portals and software.
  • The Spotify experience is irreplicable.
  • Most online music portals believe since Africa invented the drum, we don’t need to stream music.
  • Last FM expect poor Africans to pay for the radio service, while keeping it free for rich Americans and Europeans.
  • Rdio, Pandora, Spotify,and Google Play do not consider Africa as a whole, a worthy market as yet, and simply do not function on the continent. (Except of course, if you are so intent on their services as to utilize tunnels and whatnot)
  • Rhapsody, MusicMonster, Jango, Deezer, Myspace (sic) do have an impressive catalogue of content. But my criteria for sampling the sites was a search for the amazing Simphiwe Dana. Most of the sites came up empty.
  • The only company,in my view,that is serious about global domination in the online music audio streaming business is Grooveshark.
  • Youtube‘s popularity is on a steep increase on the continent, and should be a clear indicator of better internet speeds and the potential of online audio streaming services.


I am passionate about music. One of the most pleasurable interactions with music Toshi and I have had is with Spotify. In my sojourn across the US, my companion, my baby laptop Toshi experienced an music like never before.

Last FM, to me, was the precursor to the Spotify era. Once upon a time, Last FM was it. unlike Myspace, Last FM had access to weird, obscure, supercool content that one just could not get anywhere else on the internet. They still do. But Last FM stubbornly refuse to adapt(or have decided that a small niche of paying clients is sufficient as a model)

Flash foward, 2013, and we find Spotify sitting pretty at the top of the streaming music chain. Spotify’s desktop plus web application just blew me away. The interactive and responsive way in which it brought related content, crowdsourced similar artists, playlists, the depth of exploration and even the ads, redefined radio.Here was one app that I was willing to hand my Facebook account detail, carte blanche. I was listening to stuff deeper into my genres and finding out that there was so much more music out there than I knew.

A hop and a step later, I was back in the motherland…and I was notified that I was “roaming”. I continued to enjoy the unmatched experience in music exploration and curation. A few weeks later, I was notified that my roaming period was over, and if I wished to continue enjoying the world of music I had become accustomed to, I would have to go premium.

There has to be a better way, I told myself. I tried downloading I.P blockers,( HideMyIP) so as to mask my location,  even tried software that allocates US I.Ps. The geniuses at Spotify were having none of that. All that happened was I was notified of a service error and the darned thing just refused to work. It let me keep the application and play the music on my local disk,but the online magic was barred from me.

Winamp, my former music player, had served me well. Winamp is one application, despite getting AOL dollars and funding, were unable to properly implement the online radio,rights,streaming and interactivity component of the whole audio ecosystem, which left them as strictly an application for playing music stored locally, in spite of their having pioneered some aspects of streaming.

In deep frustration I went on a search for Spotify killers and found a few contenders:

  1. Rdio
  2. Pandora
  3. Rhapsody
  4. Jango
  5. Grooveshark
  6. MOG
  7. Deezer

Now, lets start with the simple fact that Rdio,Pandora and MOG immediately flag one with that idiotic message:



Rhapsody,Deezer,Jango work but with a catalogue that will be sufficient for the casual listener but would suck for the truly explorative and the music junkie.

That leaves Grooveshark. Grooveshark is beautiful. Despite being purely online, without the desktop- plus-playlist-plus-local-plus-advertisement feel of Spotify (Which is a lot, and I write this in hindsight, as I have kind of forgotten how awesome Spotify is, coz I tried Grooveshark the day I had to delete Spotify , tried it once and once only and never went back coz at the time it couldn’t match up) Grooveshark offers the deepest catalogue I have experienced so far.

As stated, the amazing Simphiwe Dana was the test artist. The portal that would have her content in its entirety would pass my test. Jango came up with nothing. Rhapsody’s result was half baked. Deezer had a couple of songs but with limited album art and discography that made it seem like random uploads with improper rights.

Did I forget to mention that, despite wowing us with amazing localization on Youtube, Google Play for Audio is not yet available in my region?

Granted, Google Play, basing off  the success of Youtube, will be a huge threat to Spotify if it can match the offline experience on the desktop.

But if you are in Africa, the only people attending to you are Grooveshark.

GO Grooveshark!


There is a trend I have noticed of late in the appsphere… Iconic Apps.

The service provider places a hyperlinked icon in the appstore, there you are thinking its an app and you download it.

Wow. How quick it took to download that….hey, the size is less than 5MB…

So you click on the “app” and all it does is call the URL of the service.

Really folks? In this present day off crossplatform appbuilding websites and developers?

Get some work done people.