Well, well, well. Look what we have here. It seems dear old RIM is getting ready to unleash BlackBerry Application Suite (formerly known as Virtual BlackBerry) sometime in the near future as references to it have been found in some of the latest device.xml files within beta OS releases. Don’t remember what BAS is? It’s the little application for Windows Mobile that lets users run the BlackBerry OS virtually on a Windows Mobile device. Ok, now that we have that out of the way, hit the jump for the real news about BAS.
Unlike the last time we spoke about BAS, we have gotten word from some of our RIM ninjas and are able to confirm that BAS has been delivered to many clients for beta testing and it’s a lot better than we were previously led to believe. Internal GPS is now supported meaning that BlackBerry Maps and other location based services will function properly. That is of course provided that the LBS third-party applications have the appropriate API access. Many people were doubting that PIN to PIN messaging and BlackBerry Messenger would work, but we can now definitively say yes, it does. However, life isn’t all beer and skittles as there are many pitfalls to BAS.
The biggest pitfall is that in it’s current form only the HTC Touch Pro/Fuze and TyTn are compatible with BAS. Beyond that… Sorry CDMA users, you’re going to be getting the usual shaft from RIM for the time being (is English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch and Simplified Chinese with rendering for Traditional Chinese available a good enough consolation prize?). But more so than that, anyone who thought they’d be able to have all of the features of a real BlackBerry is going to be sorely disappointed. For one, Windows Mobile itself handles all calls just as it handles the syncing of Bluetooth devices and external GPS receivers. Pictures taken with BAS are not saved in its directory but rather in the default WinMo directory. MP3s and WAV files do not play nice with BAS while SMS and MMS sent from BAS do not play nice with WinMo as they will not show up in its outbox directory.
So what does all this mean? Well, to us it means that BAS is nice in theory, but will let down anyone who was thinking that they could ditch the shackles of RIM-designed handsets and still have the BlackBerry OS. That said, BAS on a Touch Pro is still very, very badass. Oh, and for you Symbian lovers out there, Virtual BlackBerry is indeed coming to Symbian devices. Makes BlackBerry Connect look a little out of place, doesn’t it? Lastly, and unfortunately, BAS for Windows Mobile runs BlackBerry OS 4.2 which will cause anyone not living in the stone age to become more than frustrated.