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BlackBerry Protect beta catches up to Android, MobileMe

updated 12:55 pm EST, Sat March 5, 2011

BlackBerry Protect beta goes live

Fulfilling recent BlackBerry Protect in a bid to compete with Apple and Google on smartphone cloud services. The long-in-testing feature gives individual users the option of remotely locating, messaging and (if necessary) wiping to help find or secure a lost or stolen phone. Owners also get a full backup service that safeguards not just calendars and contacts but browser bookmarks, memos, tasks and the saved text messaging history.

Much like its competitors, the Protect system is tied to the owner's existing BlackBerry ID and uses the web for all its control. It can support multiple smartphones and is pitched as a quick way to port over basic settings for those simply wanting to upgrade to a new BlackBerry.

Those willing to use the initial version can download it in the Test Center section of BlackBerry App World, where most users should see it within the next day. The mobile side of the app works on BlackBerry 5 and 6 devices and doesn't need a 3G link to work, although positioning won't work properly without a cellular connection.

BlackBerry Protect comes relatively late for RIM. Android users have had access to much of their personal info just through the inherent nature of the tie-in with Google, but iPhone users have also had Find My iPhone and other services through MobileMe. Apple has trailed somewhat and didn't make Find My iPhone free until late last year. iTunes-based Google syncing has been available for free for some time, but MobileMe cloud syncing is currently paid and is rumored to only be going with completely free MobileMe in the spring.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. Cleverboy

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2007

    +1

    PROBLEM: Article is Inaccurate

    The article starts out with a flawed premise, "Fulfilling recent BlackBerry Protect in a bid to compete with Apple and Google on smartphone cloud services. The long-in-testing feature gives individual users the option of remotely locating, messaging and (if necessary) wiping to help find or secure a lost or stolen phone." This doesn't quite compute.

    While Android has cloud syncing built in for Google accounts, protecting contacts, emails, and calendar events, Apple's iOS offers cloud syncing through its paid service MobileMe or for free via Gmail or Yahoo accounts (Apple uses MobileMe syncing to allow users to sync their Mac desktops to MobileMe, but options are also available to sync Google contacts and calendars to the Mac desktop).

    To the degree that Blackberry Protect helps to sync calendar and contacts wirelessly, this is helps bring parity for them. But, regarding the services detailed in the second sentence... Google doesn't offer that at all. These are features iOS now offers to new device owners for FREE, but for which Google has NEVER offered built-in services.

    As an aside, one of Android's largest hardware makers, HTC, announced these services for its customers toward the end of last year (September). However, HTCSense.com was only offering these features for its Desire HD and Desire Z handsets by October. By the beginning of this year they were also supporting handsets like the HTC Inspire, although the service has been reporting numerous problems ( http://gregsramblings.com/2011/02/26/htcsense-com-overloaded/ ).

    One popular service amongst Android users at large, and filling this gap for some time, is Lookout. This service is entirely independent for Google OR Android manufacturers, and is FREE for "location" services, but charges for "remote lock/wipe" and "enhanced backup" (Premium features). This is worth mentioning, as a third-party service like Lookout (or US-only paid Android apps like WaveSecure or MobileDefense), is the ONLY way in which iOS was "trailed" Android on the free availability of remote security services (Lookout was free before Find My iPhone was).

    Meanwhile, both iOS and Blackberry have supported remote wipe, etc, as part of their Exchange integration long before Android has. Android trailed on decent Exchange support up until Android 2.1 where it gained better support for ActiveSync. Even in 2.3, Exchange professionals note that Android is still "quite lacking", although in fairness, each device manufacturer determines the final policy for what the device supports. Last year, when Google released FroYo, it also added a feature called "remote wipe" to the API, but the name is misleading, as it only allows an "admin" to make a device "wipe itself" if certain conditions are met (SIM change, failed unlock count, etc). Also, as an API, it depends on an app to use it. Of course, iOS has had "auto-wipe" features for multiple versions in the case of number of failed unlocks, Android apps supporting wipe by SMS or remote ping wouldn't be supported on iOS.

    All said, Blackberry's move puts it more on footing with iOS. Any move by Apple to make remote syncing more generally available (for non-Gmail or Yahoo accounts) would be appreciated... however, again, iOS already supports free remote contact/calendar syncing with Google accounts and Yahoo accounts.

    If Blackberry moves to offer Blackberry Protect as a free service to Blackberry users, Google's Android will need to play "catch-up" to iOS and Blackberry. Currently, by most measures, iOS is ahead of the game providing integrated support for its users where other platforms do not. There are currently NO remote lock/wipe services that only use Google's ID (and especially none run by Google).

    This article ends in a way that reads as typical if inaccurate... portraying Apple as charging for everything and behind, while Google gives users services for free and seems advanced.

    The reality is that Apple is currently offering remote location, messaging, wipe & lock for FREE, whereas Android users must pay a third-party (not Google) for this functionality. In paying, however, Android users get MORE features than iOS users and Android's more open stance on multitasking services allows for 3rd party solutions to exist in the first place (where they cannot reliably operate iOS, unless a phone is jailbroken).

    Hope that helps.

  1. que_ball

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2000

    0

    smrtguard free and paid

    Blackberry users who wanted these features have been able to use either the free locating and wipe features from the third party smrtguard or pay to get the cloud backup feature. I think it's been around for about 2 years now and works pretty well.

    In fact if you are on a BES and cannot use this new Protect product (it does not support Blackberry Enterprise Server) then you still want to consider using Smrtguard.

    Smrtguard is also available in an Android version.

    So the ability for remote wipe, locate, etc has been there for a few years now. Remote wipe has been a part of BES in Blackberry for enterprise users since just about forever.

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