Switch Tips & Tricks – Getting Started

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 integrates with the native BlackBerry Tasks app, sharing a common to do list. Unless you have already created tasks in the BB Tasks app, the first time Switch is started it will display a single task item named “Idle”. This special task represents activities that are not tracked by Switch. Effectively, when your current task is “Idle”, it means you are off-the-clock.

Typically, the first thing you will need to do after starting Switch for the first time is to populate your list of tasks. To do this, press the BlackBerry menu key and select “New Task”.  Give the new task a name, and optionally specify other details like priority, due date, etc.

It is up to you how general or specific the tasks are that you create. For instance, you may wish to enter tasks representing common, recurring activities such as “Reading e-mails”, “Weekly team meeting” and “Write daily status report”. Additionally, you may wish to create one-time or short duration tasks such as “Project Alpha”, “Create proposal for Widget idea” and “Pick up customer from the airport”.

Once the initial set of tasks is created, you are ready to begin tracking your time. To do this, select the desired task by tapping it on a touchscreen device, or by highlighting it and clicking the track-pad/track-ball. The selected task will become your current task, and will be displayed using a bold font to indicate this. At this point, you can close the Switch app until you begin working on a different task, or stop working. Then open Switch again, pick a different task and then close Switch. Repeat this process each time you start working on something different.

To see various views of your work history, check out the Summary Report, Task Switch History or look in your BlackBerry calendar.

Other articles in this series:

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Announcing Switch 1.6 for BlackBerry

OSoSLO is pleased to announce the release of version 1.6 of Switch for BlackBerry.

This highly-anticipated release includes several key features based on BlackBerry Messenger 6 (BBM) technology.

Connect Switch with BBM and let your contacts know what you are working on.

Invite friends and colleagues to download Switch as well to enable additional features, such as assigning tasks and holding in-app discussions about tasks and assignments.

Switch is now faster than ever before with an optimized start-up. Now you can switch tasks in seconds flat.

Try Switch free for seven days. Then you’ll realize, it’s time to Switch!

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Mobile & Social with BlackBerry Messenger SDK

Over the past few years, we have witnessed the explosive growth of two phenomena in software technology: mobile applications and social networking. While both had their origins in the last millennium, it took several years of incubation and evolution for each to mature enough for mass market appeal. Today, there is no doubt that these two incredible concepts have forever altered how we interact with machines and each other.

Thus far, most mobile applications have been islands of simple utility, operating in an isolated environment with only the occasionally connection to an outside world. The strength of such apps has derived from their near-constant availability to the user due to the extreme portability of the smartphone devices.

Social networking on the other hand evolved as a web-based technology, accessible primarily through browsers. The interfaces have traditionally been geared toward desktop browsers, making their use on the smaller screens of smartphones a challenge. Eventually, mobile apps for the social networks were created with interfaces tailored for the portable devices, making it much easier for people to share information and stay in constant contact.

Now, the merger of social networking and mobile applications is underway, promising to further reshape the growing bond between humans and machines. With the introduction of the BlackBerry™ Messenger (BBM) SDK, mobile app developers can now leverage the social communication pathways established by the BBM ecosystem. This opens up tremendous new possibilities for sharing information, increasing collaboration and providing exciting new ways of interacting with each other.

BBM is unique in that it is built for mobile computing. It’s not a desktop or web application ported as an afterthought to mobile devices. I love that it is always on, always connected, always available. You don’t have to log into it. It’s just always there for you to use. It also leverages BlackBerry’s famously secure network helping to ensure the information you share is only viewed by its intended recipients.

One of the great features of the BBM SDK is the support for “Invite to Download” messages. This allows one user to request one or more of their contacts to download a BBM-enabled app so they can interact using the app. The obvious use case for this is a multi-player game, but there are many other possibilities including business apps. If nothing else, “Invite to Download” is a great mechanism for viral marketing of an app.

I’ve been developing software for more than 75% of my life, predominantly applications for desktop PCs and servers. More recently, I have expanded my skills into web applications and mobile app development. I have been a loyal BlackBerry™ user for over eight years now, and began developing BlackBerry™ apps last year. I currently have two apps in the BlackBerry™ App World: Switch, a time-tracking app for BB smartphones, and EZTiler, a seamless photographic tile generator for the PlayBook. I am very excited about the prospects of integrating the BBM functionality into some of my current and future apps.

Disclaimer: RIM is currently sponsoring the “BBM Apps Hackathon” contest with the prize being a trip to New York City to attend their Hackathon event. This pitch is a part of my entry into this contest. While the publishing of this article was influenced by this contest, my feelings and opinions about the topic were not.

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