It looks like Google is going to end support for the Gmail mobile app on the Blackberry platform:
Beginning November 22, 2011, we will end support for the Gmail App for Blackberry(installed native app). Over this past year, we’ve focused efforts on building a great Gmail experience in the mobile browser and will continue investing in this area.
Users may continue to use the app, if installed, however it will not be supported by Google, or available for download starting November 22. BlackBerry users can continue to access Gmail through the mobile web app at http://www.gmail.com in their BlackBerry web browser.
Anyone that has the app installed on their phones now will be able to continue using it. I wonder how long it will be before a system update to the Gmail service will break these unsupported apps? If you have to wipe your Blackberry after November 22nd (and let’s face it, we’ve all had to wipe our Blackberries before) you will no longer be able to install the application.
The best bet is to go ahead and start switching over to the mobile application now. I’ve always preferred to move to a new platform on my own time. Waiting until it breaks is a recipe for disaster. You’ll likely be stuck and waiting on the IT guys to return your call.
I can’t say that I am surprised by this. At work we have been encouraging our end users to migrate away from the Blackberry platform for a few years now. Most of our smart phone folks have moved to either the Android or iPhone platforms but there are still a few that like to use their Blackberries. I wonder which app will be the next to end support?
Last week the United Methodist Church met globally for a Leadership Summit. With membership declining steadily over the last several years the denominational leadership hosted a global brainstorming session. Video from the main session was broadcast globally as United Methodists gathered around the world to discuss the issues facing the church today.
Conference Staff Attending The Leadership Summit
The event was nicely done from a technology standpoint. It was an interesting experience to know that we were participating in the same event with United Methodists in the Congo, Germany, Zimbabwe, Liberia and elsewhere all over the world. We all sang the same hymn and prayed the same prayer, regardless of timezones. It was a great experience. I hope we do more presentations like this in the future.
This is one of the reasons why I think that all of our churches should create a technology budget for their leadership. All of our pastors need access to modern computer equipment and smart phones. These devices will help our clergy become more connected with each other, the annual conferences and the general boards and agencies.
It looks like you can now port your favorite phone number to the Google Voice service. This is a welcome addition to all of the great functionality that this service offers. I’ve been using Google Voice since it was introduced so I don’t really have another number to give out.
Google is testing out this service right now with a limited number of users (present company excluded). It looks like it will cost $20 to transfer the number and your existing phone account will be discontinued. Keep in mind that you will be hit with early contract termination fees if you are still in the middle of a contract. If you have been waiting to port your number when your contract ends however, this is for you!
Now if they would only add MMS and extension dialing support…
Cell phone coverage in our new building has proven to be quite a challenge. It would appear that big steel buildings such as ours do not permit easy wireless transmission. I have noticed issues with sending 802.11 G and N signals as well the signals that make our phones work. The overhead wireless network was set up with a few more draft N access points to compensate for the signal troubles. Unfortunately we can’t install a few more cell phone towers around the property to improve the signal.
Since I have been working at the new building for several months ahead of the rest of the staff I am acutely aware of the cell phone trouble. I remember fondly having to run outside several times to make quick phone calls over the course of troubleshooting an issue. The problem isn’t that I don’t want to fix it. The problem is that there simply aren’t very many available options. I called AT&T, Sprint/Nextel and Verizon to discuss the problem. I discovered that both Verizon and Sprint/Nextel offer corporate level IT solutions for repeating their wireless network signal through a facility such as ours (approx. 35,000 sq. ft.). AT&T, unfortunately, has no similar solution.
After discussing this internally we determined that since the majority of our staff are Verizon subscribers we would go with the Verizon solution first. The only system that is rated to work with Verizon’s towers is the Juni JR-20 Plus. This system has two antennas that will each cover approx. 20,000 sq. ft. Once that system has been installed we can review its effectiveness and determine where to go from there.
Juni JR-20 Plus
On a related note, both Verizon and Sprint/Nextel use CDMA networks. My hope is that Sprint/Nextel subscribers can roam off of these repeaters while they are inside the building. If that works out then we won’t have to look at investing in any more major equipment purchases. This stuff ain’t cheap!
To further complicate things, AT&T and T-Mobile use GSM. These two different protocols do not mix. There are smaller wireless range extenders available from AT&T but they are primarily designed for home usage. As such, they are not well suited for use in a facility our size. I’ll keep posting updates as my research progresses and will let you know how the installation goes.
Google Voice is finally here! You can sign up for it at www.google.com/voiceinvite.