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.

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Switch Tips & Tricks – BBM Profile Updates

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.

Switch is now a BBM Connected application. This means it can use the BBM network to provide a variety of useful social features. Before you can use these features however, you must meet the following requirements:

  • BBM version 6.0 or higher installed
  • An existing BBM user account
  • Switch version 1.6 or higher installed
  • Switch connected to BBM

When you run Switch the first time, if BBM 6 is present you will be prompted to connect Switch to BBM. If for some odd reason you choose not to connect it, Switch will continue to prompt for a connection each time it is started. To suppress this prompt, in the Options screen, set BBM Integration to Disabled.

After choosing to connect Switch to BBM, you will see BBM go through a few steps to establish the connection. In some cases, you may need to restart Switch or even your BlackBerry device to complete the connection set up process. This setup process will only need to be repeated under unusual circumstances such as removing and reinstalling Switch. Once the setup process is complete, you will see the message below.

One of the great social features of a BBM connected Switch is the ability to share information about what you are working on in Switch. Once this option is enabled, any of your BBM contacts will be able to see this information by viewing your Contact Profile in BBM. To enable this functionality, open the BBM app and choose Options from the menu. Locate the BBM Connected Applications section on the Options screen as shown below, and press the Edit button next to Application Access.

Next, locate Switch in the list of BBM Connected Applications and press the Edit button on that row as shown below.

On the Switch Settings screen, make sure the Connect to BBM option is set to Connected, and check the box next to the Post recent activities to my profile option. Save the changes and close out of Options.

Now when you or one of your BBM contacts views your Contact Profile in BBM, a Switch profile box with recent activity information will appear as shown below. If the BBM Contact viewing the profile does not have Switch installed, a box with a yellow arrow will appear allowing them to download the app from App World. Your contacts do not have to install Switch in order to see the recent activity updates, but they will need to install it if they wish to post their own activity updates.

As you work in Switch, completing and switching tasks, those activities will automatically post to your profile. Each time a new activity is posted, a notification icon will appear next to Recent Updates on the main BBM screen as shown here.

Pressing Recent Updates will display a list of BBM contacts that have profile updates. Under each contact will appear the applications that have posted updates. Below you can see how this appears when Switch posts an activity on a contact’s profile. Pressing the Switch app row will open that contact’s profile to view the details in the Switch profile box.

BBM profile updating is just one of the great new BBM-enabled features in Switch. I’ll discuss some of the other social aspects of Switch in an upcoming article.

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Switch Tips & Tricks – Task Filters

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.

Once you have accumulated a sizable list of tasks, it may become cumbersome to scroll each time to locate a desired task to switch to. To make it easier to locate a task, Switch provides a “Find” feature which can be used to quickly filter the task list. Simply start typing a word that you expect to be in the title of the desired task. Switch will automatically filter the task list to include only those entries containing words beginning with the letters you typed.

Even if you have over a hundred tasks in your list, the “Find” feature can reduce the list to less than a screenful with only a few letters typed. Use the BlackBerry back button to clear the “Find” entry and return to a full task list.

Another way to filter the task list is through the use of Category filters. When a task is created or edited, one or more categories can be associated with the task. Categories are simply names that can mean anything you wish. For instance, you could use the category “Business” for work-related tasks, and the category “Personal” for other tasks. Another possible use of categories would be to represent different clients.

Once you have associated your tasks with categories, you can use the Category filter to only show those tasks associated with that category. To change the Category filter, press the BlackBerry menu key and choose Options. Find the Category option and change it to the desired category. Note that at least one task must be associated with the desired category in order for it to appear in the set of possible choices.

There are also two predefined Category filters that may be used as follows:

  • ::Any:: – matches tasks associated with any category, including none. This will display an unfiltered task list.
  • ::Uncategorized:: – matches those tasks which are not associated with any category.

If the Category filter is set to a specific category, then any new tasks created will automatically be associated with that category.

Task filters are a great way to keep a large task list manageable and to keep groups of tasks separated. Use the “Find” feature to quickly filter a large task list, and use the Category filter to better organize your tasks.

Other articles in this series:

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