updated 12:55 pm EST, Sat March 5, 2011
BlackBerry Protect beta goes live
Fulfilling recent BlackBerry Protect in a bid to compete with Apple and Google on smartphone cloud services. The long-in-testing feature gives individual users the option of remotely locating, messaging and (if necessary) wiping to help find or secure a lost or stolen phone. Owners also get a full backup service that safeguards not just calendars and contacts but browser bookmarks, memos, tasks and the saved text messaging history.
Much like its competitors, the Protect system is tied to the owner's existing BlackBerry ID and uses the web for all its control. It can support multiple smartphones and is pitched as a quick way to port over basic settings for those simply wanting to upgrade to a new BlackBerry.
Those willing to use the initial version can download it in the Test Center section of BlackBerry App World, where most users should see it within the next day. The mobile side of the app works on BlackBerry 5 and 6 devices and doesn't need a 3G link to work, although positioning won't work properly without a cellular connection.
BlackBerry Protect comes relatively late for RIM. Android users have had access to much of their personal info just through the inherent nature of the tie-in with Google, but iPhone users have also had Find My iPhone and other services through MobileMe. Apple has trailed somewhat and didn't make Find My iPhone free until late last year. iTunes-based Google syncing has been available for free for some time, but MobileMe cloud syncing is currently paid and is rumored to only be going with completely free MobileMe in the spring.