Best BlackBerry PlayBook apps

So, you’ve bought the BlackBerry PlayBook, you’ve mastered the intriguing OS and you know your up swipe function from your down swipe function and your left from your right. Good stuff. The next trick, several software updates later, is to get some content going on and that largely means apps.

We’ve been scouring the BlackBerry App World’s tablet division for the very best BlackBerry PlayBook apps but if there’s any you think we’ve missed, then do let us know in the comments.

PlayDoom

Doom is awesome. If you need to remind yourself of that, just pick up a PlayBook thanks to the fact that first chapter of the original first person shooter, 'Knee Deep in the Dead', is available for free as shareware.



We’re not going to tell you that controlling this 1994 PC keyboard adventure is a cinch on a 2011 tablet. It isn’t. But it works well enough - a combination of on-screen WADS keys and some touch and swipe controls - for the memories to come flooding back. After an hour, you won’t even realise you’ve been sitting there all that time and every new old weapon you pick up from the pixels of the past is a joy to behold and blast some alien scum with. Do watch the tendency to get locked into auto-fire though.

Price: Free

Rating: 4/5

App World: Download

Need For Speed Undercover

Need For Speed Undercover is by far and away the slickest game out on the BlackBerry PlayBook at the moment. It was free for a little while but sadly that’s been upped back to $2.99 - at least for now. NFS is your classic tabled-turner racing game with top notch graphics and really enjoyable gameplay.



It’s all about street racing your way through better cars, which you can upgrade in your garage, and avoiding the cops at all occassions. There’s also some sort of plot with cut scenes going on which you can choose to ignore. The fun, though, is really in the racing itself where you draft behind other vehicles, pick up points for near misses with ongoing cars and drift you way around corners until you nitro your way out of them. Very enjoyable.

Price: $2.99

Rating: 4/5

App World: Download

Today in History

We’re not normally in the habit of recommending apps which we only rate as a 2/5 but what we like about Today in History is that it’s got potential. It’s a very simple concept that you’ll have figured out the minute you read its name. Open it up, the app knows the date and it’ll then list you a bunch of interesting events that happened on this day throughout different years. You can browse through other dates when you’re done but that rather ruins the fun of it.



Where it falls down is that the historical events really need to have expandable details once you’re interested in the headlines facts. Now, whether that’s a link to the relevant Wikipedia page or something within the app is another thing but the option ought to be there. All the same, we’ll give it the benefit of the doubt in terms of future updates.

Price: Free

Rating: 2/5

App World: Download

DoodleBlast

Puzzling, maddening, amusing, ingenious - there are plenty of words to describe the simple and addictive game that is DoodleBlast but the one we’d choose foremost is probably original. The idea of the game is to get some marbles, which start at the top of the screen, to end up in a beaker at the bottom.

The way it's done is by drawing platforms with your finger for the balls to fall onto such that you guide them to their ultimate destination once you click the button for them to start rolling. You get a certain amount of ink to draw with on the chemistry lab-themed background and the chance to do it over again if you get it wrong. And again. And again. And again...

Price: Free

Rating: 4/5

App World: Download

Assembler Mobile 2 HD

In a similar vein to DoodleBlast is the puzzler from developer Bryce Summer called Assembler Mobile 2. It's all about moving crates from one place to another place using objects which you can pull about with your finger.

It's been done before to some degree but what makes AM2 so satisfying is the physics of slinging the bric-a-brac about with the best feature of all the fact that you can turn the PlayBook around to change the direction of the effect of gravity. Of course, what starts as a neat trick turns into something that actually makes the game 10 times harder. How many levels before you call it quits?

Price: Free

Rating: 4/5

App World: Download

Marp

As with Today in History, there’s frustration and potential in this app in equal measure. It just so happens that both of those things are magnified by a factor of 10 when it comes to Marp. Marp is a beautifully elegant way of playing music and even making your own basic tracks as well. It comes with a ludicrously minimal user interface consisting of a black background on which you can draw and subsequently pluck a series of white strings. The longer the string, the lower the note.



Things start getting interesting when you get into recording your own sounds using the PlayBook’s microphone which you can then start adding along with the strings. “So, what’s the problem,” you ask. It’s bloody hard to use, is your answer

Price: Free

Rating: 2/5

App World: Download

Adode Connect

Part of a whole set of Adobe Air applications available for the PlayBook, Adobe Connect is your video conferencing tool. The app hooks into your Wi-Fi and both front and rear cameras to give you a nice, flexible way of video VoIP chat and conducting your business meetings from wherever you can pick up a connection.



Sadly it does involve signing up for the service which will cost you but, on the bright side, you can do the classic 30-day trial to check that it’s the conferencing tool for you.

Price: Free (sort of)

Rating: 4/5

App World: Download

Connect 5

Whether it's a question of copyright or whether it's just a way to make the game all the harder, we don't know, but Connect 5 on the BlackBerry PlayBook is a tactical battle betwixt man and machine the like of which we've never before seen. Technically, it's not like Connect 4. There's no issues of having to stack counters one on top of the other. Instead, it plays like a giant game of noughts and crosses with the unlikelihood of it ever ending up in a stale mate.

Graphically speaking, it's just about the most basic app you could imagine and the interface looks like a cross between Battleships and chess down to the move list on the right, at the bottom of which the computer will insult you when it's one. At least, that's the way we read it.

Price: Free

Rating: 3/5

App World: Download

MeteorStorm

Let's get down to brass tacks. This is Missile Command, the video game from the 80s, only dressed up and made for the PlayBook. It is, however, dressed up rather well from the satisfying sounds of the explosions to the power-ups that shooting roaming satellites grant.

The game forces you to play in portrait which always seems a little odd on a tablet but, on the plus side, that does make sure you get as much time as possible to shoot down those meteors hurtling their way to terra firma. Certainly worth a month on your PlayBook seeing as it’s free.

Price: Free

Rating: 3/5

App World: Download

Pixelated/Pixelated Plus

You’ve already got plenty of games to be getting on with but your collection just won’t be complete without the wonderfully simple and aesthetically pleasing Pixelated. It’s an addictive game that will only remain on your tablet after a month because it’s so nicely done. The idea of the game is that you start with a grid of coloured squares which you have to turn all the same colour by switching the shade of just the one in the top corner. Play it and you’ll see what we mean.



The trick is that you only get 22 moves to get it right and it actually takes quite a lot of thought to get there. At the same time, there’s no need to be puzzling too hard unless you’re after a record score.

If you like the game, then make sure to upgrade to Pixelated Plus. The extras include different grid sizes, levels of difficulty and the ability to change the colour scheme. More to the point, it’s a chance to reward the developer for coming up with something truly good.

Price: Free/$2.99

Rating: 5/5

App World: Download/Download

Keytar

You can’t beat a good keyboard app for tablets and that’s exactly what Keytar is. Well, sort of. Strictly speaking, it’s an 80s style synth guitar thing complete with bags of note samples with grooves and beats to back up your noodling.



It’d be nice if there were more options beyond that. There aren’t. That’s about as far as you can go with it. Presumably, one could hook it up to some system and get a decent recording of what you put together or, at worst, you could just use it for composing a beat for later while out and about.

Price: $0.99

Rating: 3/5

App World: Download

SoundStorm

With little in the way of music service app support on the PlayBook, SoundStorm is an oasis in the desert - even if it is a bit of a muddy puddle at times. It’s a music streaming and info service made by sticking Last.fm, SoundCloud and MusicBrainz into a blender and siphoning off the slightly average bits.



It’s a basic enough premiss - look up an artist, get some discography and info on them, head to an album and play one of their tracks; for free. All good, no? The trouble is that, although the information is there, much of the music isn’t. Even worse is that sometimes it’s a dodgy cover. Still, better than a fin in the eye from wet salmon.

Price: Free

Rating: 3/5

App World: Download

Steppy Step Sequencer

Somewhat more straight forward than Marp is the drum machine app that is the Steppy Step Sequencer. It’s a very simple affair. No menus to mess with, just six pieces of the drum kit and a single bar of music to arrange. Your only other controls in the entire app are the beats per minute.



Steppy might not last long on the the tablet of a casual user looking for a cheap thrill but it’s a nice bit of music producer’s kit.

Price: Free

Rating: 4/5

App World: Download

News and Weather

Tablets are all about content and one of the most important areas for us modern day people is news; in this case News and Weather from PuguaSoft. The app pulls in the headlines from the Google News RSS and presents then in easily digestible tablet form, i.e. on a black background. Finger the news and it’ll take you through to the full story where you can absorb the details until suitably saturated.



What’s quite nice about it is that you can pick and choose which categories to include in your current affairs fix and which to ignore. What’s not nice about it is that it’s not rendered quite as well as the Android version and that you have to tell it your location for some reason when it should really use the tablet’s GPS, but there you go.

Price: Free

Rating: 3/5

App World: Download

Bluebox

One of things you have to accept about the BlackBerry OS is that you’re not quite going to have that across the board app support from all the big services. Fortunately, what you do get is a thriving cult community who’re at hand to make their own versions of what you need. Enter Bluebox. Bluebox is your Dropbox app.



It’s not quite as pretty as the web n.0 version but it does everything you need including ziping files and, most importantly of course, getting some of that content on and off your tablet without the need for cables.

Price: Free

Rating: 5/5

App World: Download

Poynt

Poynt is all about making the most of what’s around you in classic GPS/directories style. The app leverages pre-existing platforms like the Thomson Directories, Bing, Top Table and others in order to bring you local results for restaurants, cinemas, petrol stations, shops, businesses and just about anything you could be looking for.



The thoughtful touch is that you can take things one step further with the app allowing you to start booking tickets and tables right there and then. Naturally, this kind of thing isn’t uncommon on other OSs but there aren’t too many options on BlackBerry. Fortuately, Poynt does it rather well.

Price: Free

Rating: 4/5

App World: Download

Blackbird

There is a perfectly good Twitter app on BlackBerry that comes preloaded with the PlayBook but it’s so, well, vanilla. If you fancy going off piste and don’t mind paying for the privilege, then Blackbird is your funky alternative.



The UI has a decent split between menus and content, an uncluttered feel and a sexy grey charcoal background. The only thing that would be nice to see is a way of previewing links without having to jump out and into the browser.

Price: $1.99

Rating: 4/5

App World: Download

Blaq

Another way of doing it is provided by Blaq. Interestingly, what it does have that Blackbird doesn’t is that in-house web link preview option. On the flipside, it all gets a bit much once you start drilling down into individual tweets and profiles. Suddenly you’ll find the nicely designed UI covered in augmentations like a 9-year-old’s collage.



To be fair though, the app still lets you do just about anything you could possibly want with your Twitter life and it still manages to maintain a sexy charcoal background. It must be some sort of colour code for third party version. Anyway, speaking of collages...

Price: $1.99

Rating: 3/5

App World: Download

Scrapbook

Designed and developed by RIM itself, Scrapbook is a really lovely, cute and, yes, fun piece of software that showcases some of the things you can do with the PlayBook - and without a single piece of business or productivity in sight.

Scrapbook lets you piece together postcard-type collages from wallpapers, photos and stickers in the form of whatever shots you've taken on the camera plus some interesting little bits of comic book style clip art. You lay them down on a background of your choice, orientate the objects as you wish and then hang them on your line where you can share them, publish them or whatever you like. No need to be creative to make them look good and even quite a nice way to document a daytrip or such.

Price: Free

Rating: 5/5

App World: Download 

Missed your favourite? Let us know in the comments.



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