I’m very happy to introduce to you today to BlackBerry® Beta Zone. Research In Motion (RIM) has had a beta site for invite-only beta programs for some time now, but as of today BlackBerry Beta Zone is open to the general populace.
BlackBerry Beta Zone is designed to allow BlackBerry smartphone users to engage early and often with upcoming RIM products and services. BlackBerry Beta Zone will sit side by side with the BlackBerry App World™ Test Center as part of RIM’s continuous effort to work with our dedicated BlackBerry community to bring the best products to market and evolve existing products.
There’s a lot to talk about today, so let’s get started walking through the brand new BlackBerry Beta Zone.
BlackBerry Beta Zone vs. BlackBerry App World Test Center
Those familiar with the BlackBerry App World Test Center may be wondering how the new BlackBerry Beta Zone will fit in. It’s important to note that while the BlackBerry App World Test Center features third party BlackBerry smartphone applications, BlackBerry Beta Zone will be solely for RIM products. In addition, certain products will be placed into the BlackBerry Beta Zone much earlier in the development cycle. As the application moves closer towards final release, it may be placed in the BlackBerry App World Test Center.
If you’d like to test the some of newest products currently in development within RIM, sign up for BlackBerry Beta Zone. If you’d like to peruse the latest BlackBerry applications that are almost ready for primetime, visit the BlackBerry App World Test Center. Better yet, do both!
BlackBerry Beta Zone Getting Started
The first thing to do if you’re interested is sign up! Head on over to http://www.blackberry.com/beta to register and fill out the required information to become a BlackBerry Beta Zone member (note: at this time BlackBerry Beta Zone is only available to residents of Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States. We’re working to extend the BlackBerry Beta Zone community across the globe so watch for the site to open to more countries in the coming months.).
After filling out the registration information and agreeing to the Terms and Conditions (make sure to read carefully, as important information is contained within!), you will receive an email with a validation link. Click the link to confirm your registration and you’re now a BlackBerry Beta Zone Member! Remember there are beta programs that will be tied to specific devices or carriers, so you may not be eligible to participate in every beta offered.
Your BlackBerry Beta Zone Profile
Now that you’re registered, you’ll have full access to the BlackBerry Beta Zone Members Area (see below for more info) and can start applying to be part of the beta programs that interest you. Before entering the Members Area, make sure to update your BlackBerry Beta Zone Profile first! While this information is entirely optional—you can answer all, some or none of the questions in each of the profile—it does help us match you with future programs. Failing to keep your profile information up to date means you might miss out on an important beta program invite! The current profile segments are: Contact, BlackBerry Smartphone, Technology, Work, Time, Languages, Lifestyle and Demographic Info.
BlackBerry Beta Zone Members Area
Now that you’ve filled out your profile, you’re ready to take advantage of BlackBerry Beta Zone’s Members Area. There’s a lot of information in the Members Area and some great features to take advantage of – polling, the discussion boards, surveys… etc. – that we’ll cover in upcoming posts. For now, I want to highlight the most important part of the Members Area: the beta programs widget!
The beta programs widget displays all beta programs you’re currently participating in, all programs you’ve been invited to participate in (see, filling out your profile information is important!), and any other beta programs you may be eligible for. Below is a list of the beta programs that will be available at launch. We’ll be covering these more in-depth in a future post.
- BlackBerry® Device Software 5.0 maintenance release for the BlackBerry® Curve™ 8520 and BlackBerry® Curve™ 8530 smartphones. This program will be open to members who live in Canada and will be capped at 1000 participants.
- BlackBerry® Messenger 5.0.1. This program will be open to all members.
- BlackBerry® Enterprise Server 5.0.2. This program will be limited to invited organizations only. Stay tuned for more information in future posts on recommending organizations for beta program invites.
- BlackBerry® Beta Zone. This program will be open to any members. This program will be about the BlackBerry Beta Zone itself. It will not include any product software.
Signing up for BlackBerry Beta Zone Programs
Once you’ve found a beta program you’d like to participate in, click the beta program widget link. You’ll be taken to a program page providing more information about the product in question and will have the option to participate or decline. Once you’ve agreed to participate, you will be provided download links (if applicable) and feedback options for that specific product. Again, not all beta programs will be offered to all people.
That’s enough BlackBerry Beta Zone information for now! Head to http://www.blackberry.com/beta, become a member, and start signing up for beta programs. And don’t forget to provide feedback – BlackBerry Beta Zone is in beta too!