There have been a few third-party applications that provide some combination of remotely backing up, restoring, and locating an errant BlackBerry smartphone, but no in-house service crafted by BlackBerry maker Research In Motion itself. Not until now, that is.
On Monday, RIM introduced BlackBerry Protect, a free service that provides tools to remotely locate, back up, restore, and wipe the data from your phone with a system that's extremely similar to Microsoft's freemium--introduced for Windows phones back in October 2009.
BlackBerry Protect is based on the
As with Microsoft's My Phone service, BlackBerry Protect includes the following remote commands:
Loud ring: This turns your phone onto the loudest setting, even when you're in silent mode, for those moments you're playing hide 'n' seek with your absent BlackBerry.
Locator: This GPS-assisted feature shows the phone's current location on a map--assuming it's on.
Remote lock: If you hadn't set a password on your device, it's not too late to password-protect it from afar.
Lost and Found: The "Lost and Found" feature appends a message to the start screen, so you can appeal to the Good Samaritan you hope will find and return your phone.
Remote wipe: If all hope is lost, BlackBerry Protect can also wipe data stored on the device and on the microSD card as well.
Back up data: You can configure BlackBerry Protect to routinely sync your contacts, calendar, browser bookmarks, memos, and tasks to BlackBerry's servers. The service works over Wi-Fi or 3G.
Restore: Restock your data on a new phone. The feature is also useful for transitioning from an old BlackBerry device (that was never lost or stolen) to a new one.
Web interface: The Web interface for BlackBerry Protect has a couple more advantages over the on-phone app. Namely, the ability to monitor the status of remote management requests, and change your backup/restore and account settings.
More details: It will support up to five devices associated with one account, which is perfect for a family or small business. Also, for any remote command to work, the device needs to have some sort of data connection, either over the cellular network or over Wi-Fi. If the battery has been pulled, the service won't work. However, BlackBerry Protect will queue up commands for when connectivity returns.
BES compatibility: Though the service is billed as a solution for both consumers and corporate users, BlackBerrys connected to BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server) will override BlackBerry Protect, so as to safeguard the company's data.
Availability: Starting Monday, BlackBerry Protect will be available as a limited beta. Open beta and general availability "later on this year."
Phone support: BlackBerry Protect will work on the Bold 9000, 9700, and 9650; the Storm 9500 series and Storm 2; and the Curve 8900 and 8500 series, the Tour, and other BlackBerry phones running operating system 4.6 or higher.