Like all us PlayBook owners, I’ve been waiting far to long for the final version of OS 2.0. Saying and thinking OS 2.0 is weird for me. I was also one of the few people that used IBM’s OS/2 back in the day, not unlike being one of the few people with a PlayBook. So when I think OS 2, I can’t help being reminded of the ill fated desktop OS that was technologically far a head of it’s time, yet failed miserably in commercial terms. Time will soon tell if the PlayBook and it’s long over due OS upgrade will go down in history in much the same way. My guess is it most certainly will.
As for using the new OS that was pushed out to my device early yesterday, there is no change for me other than adding the new apps, since I’ve been using the beta versions of OS 2.0 since shortly after I purchased my PlayBook. And I can see no difference between this final version and the last beta.
As for the new apps, the main ones are email, calendar, contacts, and I think they added a new file manager app which I don’t remember seeing before. Up until now I was using converted Android apps to get the functionality of the main 3, email, calendar and contacts. And that finally made the PlayBook worth using…sometimes.
The email app called Messaging is on par with your typical unified inbox tablet or phone email client. Nothing special about it, it works fine and seems to be very usable.
The calendar app is somewhat disappointing. I use Google Calendar for my personal and work scheduling. The PlayBook Calendar does sync with Google’s calendar system, but only with the main calendar. I was not using the main Google calendar for much, instead I had secondary calendars for Personal and Business appointments, so I could see them in different colours. When I linked the PlayBook to my Google Calendar I saw nothing, so I had to export all my appointments from both secondary calendars and import them both into the same main calendar. I can now see them and sync with the PlayBook, but how inconvenient is that?! This is not unlike the exact same limitation in Google’s own Outlook sync app, which will also only sync the main calendar to Outlook. Of course I’ve always assumed this was due to Outlook’s lack of multiple calendars unless you had Exchange. Why is BlackBerry building this limitation into the PlayBook? It had multiple calendar functionality. Is it a Google API limitation or a BlackBerry oversight?
The other shortcoming of the PlayBook Calendar is that when sync’d to a Google Calendar, and viewing a day’s events for the first time, it seems to have to fetch the data, as there is a noticeable delay. It appears to cache the info after viewing a day, as it is faster each same day view. Why not cache the next 30 days so it’s always available for immediate viewing?
So for me other than this experiment, I’m going to likely use the browser version of Google Calendar, as there is no advantage to using their native app. It seems somewhat of an after thought in regards to users of a PlayBook wanting to sync with Google Calendar. And now thanks to PlayBook, all my appointments are the same colour.
The contacts app seems fine. Sync’s well with Google contacts, seems to have lots of fields and I believe user definable fields.
Let’s mention battery life. The battery life on the PlayBook is poor. After the upgrade yesterday, it definitely isn’t better, in fact if possible it’s worse. Or it was simply the fact I used it longer yesterday than I have since the first few weeks I had it. I may have used it for playing with the apps for at most 4 hours in total yesterday, and it went down to 12%, and by morning in standby it was completely dead. Like your typical Android phone, you can watch the power level drop in real time, and it’s less boring than watching paint dry, as killing the battery on a PlayBook with normal use is far faster than paint drying.
Overall there is nothing fantastic here. These are all basic functionality we have used and expected by default in tablets for well over a year. I’ve been using my Asus Transformer Prime over the PlayBook the last while, not because the OS is so much better, it isn’t, I have no love for the incredibly over-hyped Android 4.0 ICS, which was at best a minor incremental upgrade from 3.1. But at least it has all the functionality I was looking for and now the PlayBook as just barely caught up to. Plus the Transformer Prime has far better battery life. The PlayBook is now just become usable as a tablet, but still lacks all the 3rd party apps I’ve come to be used to. I have trouble finding reason to pick up my PlayBook now.
I see no reason the PlayBook is going to survive, unless it’s permanently on sale. And giving us “normal” functionality after all this time is simply embarrassing, and it won’t on it’s own save the company from it’s reported sales, marketing and obvious management problems.