App Review: Aerize Email Alerts



EmailAlerts_logoWhen one of your contacts calls, you can be alerted to their identity through a custom ringtone, and/or with name and photo flashed on the screen of your BlackBerry.

But what if your contact sends your BlackBerry an email or text message? Your phone can alert you that a message has arrived, but can’t help you identify who the sender is until you actually open the message.

Aerize Email Alerts brings the convenience of Caller ID to email and text messages (SMS).

Download and Installation

I purchased Aerize Email Alerts (or Aerize Alerts for short) from the BerryReview Store that had a special price of only $5 (normally $10–still a bargain) until Oct. 31, 2008 (sorry…now expired). But naturally you can purchase it directly from Aerize, too.

In case you’re new to purchasing, downloading, and installing apps, I’ll show you how I did it. (You veteran app loaders can skip to the next section.)

I chose an OTA (over-the-air) download from an SMS (text) message sent from the store. For me, that’s far easier than downloading to my computer, then installing the app using Desktop Manager.

Just moments after my online purchase, I received the text message with a link for the download. That link opened my BlackBerry Browser to conduct the download.

EmailAlerts[2] EmailAlerts[3]

Since Aerize Alerts needs access to your email and SMS inboxes, you have to grant the app those permissions. For security reasons, you are notified that the app is requesting those permissions and you have to explicitly click to allow it. If you ever download an app you’re suspicious of, scrutinize carefully the permissions it claims to need. Better yet–don’t download apps without knowing they’re safe.

EmailAlerts[4] EmailAlerts[5]

EmailAlerts[6] EmailAlerts[7]

After successful installation, you find an envelope icon on your Home Screen.

EmailAlerts[8] EmailAlerts[9]

Configuration

When I first opened Aerize Alerts, I saw it seemed to be asking for a Serial Code. I’m quite sure that’s because you can download a trial version to play with for 7 days, but to use it after the trial period, you have to purchase it to get the Serial Code.

The Serial Code was emailed to me separately; it was actually referred to as an Activation Code. I scrolled down and typed it in (although it looked strange since it overlaps the Aerize logo, as the screenshot below shows). Be aware that the Serial/Activation Code is tied to your BlackBerry’s PIN. That would prevent you from installing it on a different BlackBerry later. Or, if you typed the wrong PIN for your phone when you did the online purchase, I suspect your code would not work. So, be careful.

EmailAlerts[10] EmailAlerts[12]

Here are the settings you can configure for Aerize Alerts:

  • Font size (for the pop-up notification for email/SMS): Small, Normal, Large
  • Auto-dismiss (this determines how long the pop-up notification remains on your home screen): Disabled (the pop-up won’t go away until you force it to), 3 sec., 10 sec., 30 sec.
  • Show Email Popup: yes or no
  • Show SMS Popup: yes or no
  • Condense body preview: yes or no (whether you want the message body to be shortened or shown in full) [ Postscript 2008-11-01: An updated version changes this setting to Body Preview: Disabled, Long, or Short ]

EmailAlerts[16] EmailAlerts[17]

  • Only show if:
    • Anyone (show pop-ups for any sender)
    • Sender is contact (show pop-ups only for senders known in your Address Book)
    • Sender has picture (show pop-ups only for senders who have a Photo ID in your Address Book)
    • [ Postscript 2008-11-01: An updated version adds: High Importance ]

EmailAlerts[18] EmailAlerts[13]

That’s the extent of configuration: short and sweet. Save your settings.

Operation

Here’s how it works. Depending on your configuration settings, when an email or text message arrives, a pop-up overlays whatever is on your screen.

  • Click OK to dismiss the pop-up.
  • Click Open to open the message.

EmailAlerts[23]

  • For email, click Mark Opened so the message will appear as opened in its inbox.
  • For email, click Delete to delete the message from its inbox.

Bugs

After using Aerize Alerts for only a few days, I’ve seen one minor bug: after dismissing a pop-up, my Home Screen didn’t render correctly, I just opened something and closed it and the Home Screen got repainted back to normal. I don’t consider this a significant bug. If I discover other problems, I’ll return to document them here.

Postscript, 2008-10-22: If I use the Application Switcher to see what’s running on my Curve 8330 (OS v4.3.0.127), and if I click the Aerize Alerts icon, the Switcher “freezes up.” The trackball won’t roll and the Escape and Menu keys don’t function. Fortunately, the End Call (red) key terminates the Application Switcher and all is well again. Not a biggie.

Postscript, 2008-10-25: NewBBie reader Andrew (see comment below) notes that if your phone is in keyboard lock when an Aerize Alert pop-up would happen, the pop-up does not appear when you unlock the keyboard. So, when you unlock your keyboard, you will need to open Messages to see if anything came in. Also, if your phone is in Standby, the pop-up will bring it out of Standby. You might or might not want this to happen.

Postscript, 2008-11-01: Version 1.1.0 made several improvements and changes that aren’t fully reflected in the article above.

Postscript, 2008-11-08: Version 1.1.1 made several improvements and changes that aren’t fully reflected in the article above. I will not continue to track these updates since they are coming so frequently and changes are so relatively minor.

Conclusion

I chose Aerize Alerts for my BlackBerry Curve 8830, but it’s available for all versions of Pearl, Curve, and Bold (as well as several other models).

Aerize Alerts answers the frequent complaints that BlackBerry owners can’t tell when one of their friends sends them an email or text message without accessing the Messages inbox. Now, you can just glance at your screen and know.

I highly recommend this app for its usefulness, quality of performance, and affordability.

 

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About the author

This entry was contributed by Kelly Carter
84 entries have been written by this author.

4 comments on this post

Andrew says:
Oct 25, 2008 - 05:10:20

I discovered a problem with the usefulness of this program. I’m not sure if it can be solved given RIM’s security architecture, but if it can it should be addressed:

I have my phone set to lock on idle after 20 min. So, most of the time my phone is locked. If I receive an SMS or e-mail while my phone is locked, when I unlock the phone I don’t see the Aerize Alert. So, while this application is cool and useful, it’s actually only useful during those brief period when my phone happens to be unlocked during the day.

Also, the application brings my phone out of Standby. This is annoying because I keep my phone in my pocket. So, I get an SMS/e-mail, Aerize brings my phone out of standby, random things might happen since my phone is subject to key presses.

Andrew

Oct 25, 2008 - 10:10:46

Andrew,
Good catch of these aspects (bugs?) of Aerize Alert. I’ll revise my article above to reflect what you discovered. Thanks!
Kelly

Andrew says:
Oct 30, 2008 - 01:10:33

Actually, I have another follow-up. The behavior seems to be inconsistent. Sometimes, when I unlock the phone after receiving an e-mail/SMS I will see the Aerize Alert, sometimes I won’t. It seems to be the case that it takes a while after the message has been received for the Aerize Alert to be prepared. So, if the phone is locked and in standby and my phone notifies me of a new message, if I take the phone out and unlock the phone right then, I won’t see an alert.

If I wait a while to check the message, I will be shown the Aerize Alert. Now, here’s the wrinkle: I have Content Protection enabled on my phone. So, when I see the alert it shows the sender but not the associated photo. The subject and body are both: “.”

So, the application does provided limited additional functionality: Upon unlocking the phone (if I have waited a sufficient period of time; I haven’t tested to see how long) I will see an alert. If content protection is enabled, however, I’ll only see the name of the sender.

Note: This behavior is the same in v1.0.2 and v1.1.0 of Aerize Alerts.

Andrew

Oct 31, 2008 - 04:10:44

Andrew,
I’m not sure if there is a connection, but I’m seeing occurrences of alerts that are difficult to clear. It’s almost like something is consuming the phone’s attention (e.g., CPU is temporarily overloaded or “locked”) for a short while, so nothing I do will clear the alert. Then, it suddenly lets me clear it. I’m wondering if in your case, depending on timing, you sometimes inadvertently clear the alert before you even know it’s there, making you think you didn’t get the alert. I’m trying to make the case (probably weakly) that Aerize Alerts might have difficulty with how it responds to the keyboard–sometimes ignoring keys, sometimes overreacting(?) to keys. I’m probably off-target on this, but it’s still kinda fun to speculate.

I’m still liking Aerize Alerts except that one of my registered email accounts has been discovered by spammers, so I was getting hammered by undesired alerts. I set up some email filters on my BIS that have eliminated them for now.
Kelly

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