Switch Tips & Tricks – Social Task Management

Switch is a BlackBerry smartphone app for managing work-related tasks and for tracking the time spent on those tasks. It is geared toward professionals who need to track their time for billing or project management purposes. This article is part of a series providing tips & tricks for maximizing the power of Switch.

A couple more great new BBM-enabled social features were introduced in Switch 1.6 – Task assignments and discussions. These features allow you to send tasks to your BBM contacts and hold discussions about them.

Before you can use these features, you must have Switch installed and connected to BBM. For more information on connecting Switch to BBM, see the previous article “BBM Profile Updates.” All BBM contacts that you wish to send tasks to or hold in-app discussions with must also have Switch installed and connected to BBM. If they don’t yet, you can encourage them to do so using the Invite To Download action from the menu on the main Tasks screen in Switch. Choose the contacts to invite as shown below, and then confirm sending the invitation on the next prompt.

The BBM contacts you invited to download Switch will receive the invitation within BBM. On the main BBM screen, it will appear under the Pending Application Invites heading as shown here.

Pressing on the Invitation will display the following prompt, allowing the invited contact to accept or decline the invitation.

If the contact chooses to accept the invitation, they will be taken to the Switch page in BlackBerry App World, where they can download and install the app.

After downloading and installing Switch, the contact will then need to run Switch, and complete the process for connecting to BBM as described in the article “BBM Profile Updates.” Once they have completed this one-time setup process, you will be able to assign tasks and hold discussions with the BBM contact.

To illustrate the task assignment and discussion features, I will use an example scenario where Marge would like Homer to pick up milk on his way home from work. Marge begins by creating a new task in Switch. She gives the task a descriptive title and sets the due date and reminder for the task.

After saving the new task, it will appear in Marge’s task list.

Next Marge chooses the Assign Task action from the menu. This will display a prompt asking whether Marge would like to start a discussion about this task once the assignment has been accepted.

Since Marge would like to clarify some things about the task request, she responds affirmatively to the prompt. Next, a list will appear of BBM contacts who have Switch installed and are BBM connected. Marge selects Homer from this list and presses OK.

Finally, a prompt to confirm sending the invitation is shown. If desired, Marge could edit the invitation message at this point. She confirms the invitation, and sends it off to Homer.

Now, Homer receives a BBM notification on his BlackBerry home screen.

He opens BBM to view the notification details. On the main BBM screen, under the Chats heading, the task assignment invitation will appear as shown here.

Pressing on the assignment item will display the BBM chat window with Marge, and the details of the invitation will be shown with buttons to Accept or Decline the invitation. Being a good husband, Homer decides to accept the invitation.

At this point, BBM will automatically launch the Switch app on Homer’s BlackBerry. Marge’s Switch app will then communicate directly with Homer’s Switch app to transfer the task to Homer’s task list. The Switch Chat screen will then open on both Marge and Homer’s BlackBerry so they can discuss the task assignment. Homer and Marge have a brief discussion about the task assignment before ending their conversation.

When Homer leaves work, he can then switch to the newly assigned task. Once he has picked up the milk, he can then mark the task as completed. All of this activity can be seen by Marge by checking Homer’s profile in BBM as described in the article “BBM Profile Updates.”

Taking the example one step further, consider the case where Homer arrives at the grocery store only to become bewildered by the enormous variety of milk selections. Unable to make a decision on his own, he consults his higher authority. He opens Switch on his BlackBerry, selects the “Pick up milk…” task, and chooses Discuss Task from the menu. As in the task assignment process, he chooses Marge from his BBM contact list and sends the invitation for discussing the task. Marge receives the invitation in BBM and accepts it to open Switch on her BlackBerry. The Switch Chat screen then appears on both devices and Homer and Marge continue to discuss what type of milk he should buy.

With its new social features, Switch has expanded beyond a mere time-tracking app, adding powerful and collaborative task management capabilities. Look for more Switch Tips & Tricks in upcoming articles.

Other articles in this series:

About Daniel Brannon

Daniel Brannon founded OSoSLO in 2009 to provide software tools and services for business and technology professionals.
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