BlackBerry App World 2.0: Everything we know

We've been waiting a long time to see RIM flesh out its application catalog for mobile phones, especially the part where we can buy apps using our credit card and not just PayPal.

It's true: BlackBerry App World 2.0 is rapidly on its way. We got the low-down in a special press event late last week about how some of the new services will work and when you can expect to get it. We also got a chance to try out BlackBerry's new app catalog on a Bold 9700. Make sure you check out our image gallery to see screenshots of what's to come.

New features and services

BlackBerry ID
BlackBerry ID is an account-based service that can help manage your device content and later help you transfer it to a new phone if you switch devices, much like scooping the flesh of a melon into a new rind. If you delete an app, you'll be able to redownload it at any time, but only for one app at a time.

Having to redownload every app onto a new phone will add unnecessary tedium back into the device-switching process, though RIM's product manager for App World, Alex Kinsella, told CNET he's already asked the developers to fold in "Update All" functionality. Thank goodness. We're not sure whether that will come out with version 2.0 or in a later update.

The previous version, App World 1.0, had some similar features. It could reinstall paid downloads through PayPals' payment service in the My World section, but PayPal owned the download data, not RIM, and it only applied to paid apps, not to free downloads. My World downloads certainly didn't apply to phone data outside of the app catalog the way that BlackBerry ID might.

While RIM didn't pour on the details, we do know that you'll sign up for BlackBerry ID the first time you start up App World 2.0. It will give you the option to associate previous PayPal purchases to the ID. We also know that the ID will be integrated into future BlackBerry services, not just the app store. We're hoping that will include changes to the online catalog along the lines of what Google has planned for pushing downloads from its the Web store to the phone.

At long last, carrier- and credit card-billing will come to BlackBerry App World 2.0, though you can still buy apps through PayPal if that\'s your pleasure.
At long last, carrier and credit card billing will come to BlackBerry App World 2.0, though you can still buy apps through PayPal if that\'s your pleasure. (Credit: Jessica Dolcourt/CNET)

Carrier and credit card billing
We've been eagerly awaiting this announcement ever since App World first launched in April, 2009, with its single PayPal payment plan for paid apps. We've known for a while that version 2.0 will let you associate a credit card number with your app purchases, pay for them with your monthly service bill, or continue using PayPal, but now we've got proof (see photo, right).

In addition, RIM will be offering premium apps to 60 more countries--including Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, India, Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

As of now, both RIM and its application developers have been profiting off paid apps in only 13 countries. RIM cited currency issues as the main blockade keeping the company from opening up the market prior to this launch. That's a flimsy-sounding argument to our ears, though the quantity and quality of BlackBerry catalog apps is sure to improve as a result of RIM's App World expansion into a higher number of paid apps worldwide.

QR codes
Google has differentiated its Android operating system in part by its support for scanning QR codes, the 2-dimensional squares that contain digitally coded information like URLs and contact details. BlackBerry already had QR-scanning capability in its BlackBerry Messenger app. With the advent of App World 2.0 comes QR scanning for apps as well as for IM and other new contacts.

Interface updates
We detail the most notable changes to the next generation of Blackberry App World in our slideshow, including new screens for top free and paid applications and for top themes, as well as a peek at collapsible subcategories that show you the status of your apps at a glance.

App World 2.0 beta should be ready for BlackBerry users to download later this month, says RIM's Kinsella, with the general release slated for the latter part of the next three months.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.