Zumobi stamps Twitter, Facebook widgets onto the BlackBerry

Zumobi releases its ad-supported mobile widgets app for BlackBerry phones and adds more branded content.

On Thursday, Seattle-based mobile widgets maker Zumobi announced its graphics-rich application for BlackBerry. Originally developed for Windows Mobile phones, Zumobi's BlackBerry release marks the application's second platform appearance and hearkens a handful of other improvements.

As a widget organizer, Zumobi lets users add 16 "tiles" to the application's home screen. The number keys and pearl are used to navigate among the four quadrants, and then again among each remaining quadrant to arrive at the elected tile.

Zumobi's Facebook tile

Each tile, created by partners, independent developers, or users online, serves an ad, ratings scale, forwarding link, and search mechanism in addition to the content. In addition to rolling out a BlackBerry version, Zumobi has also taken the opportunity to welcome Facebook and Twitter tiles to the gallery, along with a host of other news and sports tiles. Particular to BlackBerry is the preloaded bPlay themes store.

Better, but not best
In answer to an earlier critique, Zumobi for BlackBerry drastically improves on the "zoom" performance, erasing rendering issues and making access to a tile as quick as pressing two keys. However, loading the Twitter and Facebook apps in particular was slow during my tests, even with a zippy UMA Wi-Fi connection.

One other complaint has also remained--that despite leaving the beta build behind, the Zumobi's in-app gallery and options settings are still "coming soon." After so many updates and months of development, I'd almost rather see them added after they gain functionality than having them lay empty.

While the content and rendering speeds are on the uptick and while BlackBerry support is a great user service, these foibles leave Zumobi a product still stuck in adolescence.

Zumobi for Blackberry is available by typing get.zumobi.com into the mobile browser or by signing up for an account on Zumobi.com. At the time of launch, Zumobi supports 8100, 8300, and 8800 series BlackBerry phones.

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.