What I don’t miss about my “work” BlackBerry

Posted on September 28, 2011
In short, the biggest things I don’t miss about my “work” BlackBerry are items enforced via IT Policy.  All of these items are configured by the BES administrator and whether enabled by default or by choice each one is an element controlled by the company.
  1. Forced password reset policies every 60 days – I understand the corporate security policy directive around changing your password every 60 days but as a user I certainly won’t miss it.
  2. Password entry before installing an application – By default, RIM corporate devices require the device password to be entered before an application can be installed.  I understand that malicious applications can be installed on a device but in the current set up applications installed through App World require two passwords to be entered – the BlackBerry ID password to download the app from App World and the device password to allow it to be installed.
  3. Constant Software Updates – One of the implied requirements of being a RIM employee is that you are always upgrading your device software to match the latest internal beta software to ensure what is released to customers is a solid build.  The biggest downside, especially for someone with hundreds of 3rd party apps, is that most developers do not implement the backup/restore capabilities in BlackBerry today.  During a software upgrade all of your data is wiped off the device (after being backed up), the software update is applied and then your data is restored.  For the 3rd party apps that do not implement backup and restore functionality it requires the user to go back into the application and set it up again.  I found this incredibly frustrating!  Thankfully, this problem doesn’t exist on QNX as the software updates are simply applied to the critical files in the OS rather than requiring a wipe of the device.
For those who work in corporate environments and transitioned to BIS what did you love about the new freedom and flexibility?

10 Replies to "What I don't miss about my "work" BlackBerry"

  • ekke
    September 28, 2011 (9:04 am)
    Reply

    Hi Mike,
    wondering why BlackBerry Balance wasn’t used – then it should be easier to install or test apps inside the private area
    ekke

    • mkirkup
      September 28, 2011 (9:21 am)
      Reply

      Unfortunately, RIM had not deployed BlackBerry Balance inside the company broadly when I was there.

  • Andy
    September 28, 2011 (10:11 am)
    Reply

    Funny, I do all three of those on BIS 😀 To each his own I guess

  • Patrick Kosiol
    September 29, 2011 (4:05 am)
    Reply

    After six years of developing for BlackBerry, this is the first I hear about “backup/restore capabilities” for 3rd party developers. I know you are not working for RIM anymore, but could you do me a favor and point me to that part in the API docs? 🙂

    • mkirkup
      September 29, 2011 (9:17 am)
      Reply

      Patrick – I would be more than happy to help.

      There are two mechanisms for implementing backup/restore on the BlackBerry platform.

      1) SyncItem – for small items that need to be backed up that don’t justify the work effort behind a proper implementation of backup/restore on the device. The most common example of something that should use SyncItem are the options for your application. They are usually a bunch of binary fields that are small and compact.

      http://supportforums.blackberry.com/t5/Java-Development/Backup-and-restore-small-amounts-of-data-using-SyncItem/ta-p/444763

      2) SyncManager – this is the most broadly implemented mechanism for backup and restore on the platform.

      You can read all about it in Chapter 9 in the Advanced development guide from way back in 4.1 (it hasn’t changed since then).

      http://www.blackberry.com/knowledgecenterpublic/livelink.exe/fetch/2000/8067/645045/8655/8656/1106255/BlackBerry_Application_Developer_Guide_Volume_2.pdf?nodeid=1106444&vernum=0

      Some important caveats to note – for all BIS users that are leveraging BlackBerry Protect it will NOT back up and restore your application data. It would only be backed up and restored through the BlackBerry Desktop Manager. For all BES users it will automatically backup and restore your application data for you but you will want to enable the option for wireless synchronization in the code.

      Enjoy.

      Mike

      • Matthias Marquardt
        October 3, 2011 (3:15 pm)
        Reply

        Interessting that you mention the OTA sync… I have tried a couple of times to get OTA sync working for my apps.
        When enableing OTA sync for my SncCollection in the SyncManager then I need to implement a new interface – this interface requires to provide a Schema class which is declared as final in the your JDK… so actually I don’t have a single clue how this could be implemented.

        Or is OTA sync only available for BB AlianceMembers (just like BIS usage)?

        Matthias

  • sivan
    September 29, 2011 (4:17 pm)
    Reply

    This is precisely the stuff RIM should be enforcing through app reviews on App World.

    Another is inconsistencies in ways of exiting an app. Some call it Close, others Exit, and even Shutdown. Almost none provide a direct way of exiting and some even ask for my confirmation to exit, a trivial app Flixster asks my confirmation to exit. This is absurd.

    • mkirkup
      September 30, 2011 (3:52 pm)
      Reply

      Absolutely agree with your comments. For RIM the challenge is that much of the testing work is manual rather than automated such that testing all of these aspects (backup/restore is a good example of a test that would take a fair bit of time) can outweigh the benefit. Once RIM moves to an automated testing framework where they detect APIs implemented in the applications they can more effectively enforce these types of requirements.

  • Dan
    October 18, 2011 (7:54 pm)
    Reply

    Mike,

    That’s a great comment about the authentication requirements before installing an app via App World. But what about other channels? If I were a moderately clever attacker, I’d have a .jad waiting on an internet-accessible web server just waiting to point your device to the moment you leave it unattended.

    • mkirkup
      October 18, 2011 (11:55 pm)
      Reply

      You are absolutely correct that the direct install path via the browser would be open if this IT Policy wasn’t in place. As such, it could be an easy change to the policy to only require it for installations via the browser rather than across the device as a whole.


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