BlackBerry gets the gist for contacts apps

BlackBerry purchased Gist, whose nifty app aggregates information about your contacts with social networking-like features

Over a decade ago, before becoming a mainstream phenomenon and about when "smartphone" first started to become a word, the BlackBerry was a novel device for those of us who were out of the office a lot but wanted to make it seem that we were at our desks (or in my case, while doing other things for fun, like playing basketball in northern New Jersey, or sailing while pretending to be at work).

But since the advent of the Android, the iPhone, and other smartphones that compete head-to-head with Research in Motion's now-fabled device, the Canada-based handset giant has been struggling to maintain market share and has been at odds to offer something completely new and must-have again.

Looking to offer some interesting features to its pre-loaded BlackBerry applications, RIM earlier this week said it has purchased Gist, a startup that offers software that aggregates e-mail contacts while helping you keep tabs on what they are doing. The purchase won't trigger a mad rush to buy next-generation BlackBerries or new tablets if the app comes preloaded, yet Gist might offer a promise of new types of applications RIM could offer in the future.

RIM did not communicate many details about the terms of its purchase of Gist. Without saying when Gist's app might be preinstalled on Blackberries, RIM posted this on its blog earlier this week:

"Today we are pleased to announce that Gist has joined Research In Motion (RIM). We're excited that the Gist team is joining RIM and bringing their expertise in providing customers with a contextualized, streamlined, and consolidated view of information about their contacts to the BlackBerry platform."

If you are mulling trashing your Blackberry for the latest iPhone, Android, or another smartphone but are curious about what Gist could offer, it's possible to try it for free with your Gmail account.

Among other things, Gist allows you to access information about your contacts as you enter their e-mail address. In a side window next to your e-mail list, a window offers a profile of each contact you specify, which includes information such as their importance on a scale of one to 100, a notes tab in which you make comments about the contact, and access to their latest Tweets. It's also possible to access a list of past Gmail and Facebook messages the contact has sent you, and a picture of the contact pops up if one is available.

At the very least, Gist can help you figure out whether you are e-mailing the right contact, or if you've forgotten who one of your contacts is. This is a useful Gmail feature. Maybe one day it could help prevent you from having to fumble around with the Blackberry's not-so-great folder search function. I wouldn't describe what Gist offers as a killer app by any means, but hopefully, Gist will be among many new and interesting apps to come pre-installed on next-generation Blackberries in the near future.

Bruce covers tech trends in the United States and Europe and tweets at @brucegain.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags research in motionconsumer electronicsCell PhonesPhonesRIM BlackBerry

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Bruce Gain

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?