Research in Motion released the BlackBerry PlayBook all the way back in April, throwing its name into the tablet competition. Unlike many other tablets, the PlayBook lacks a cellular radio, intended instead to piggyback off a BlackBerry smartphone’s connection. In order to do so, users need to run RIM’s BlackBerry Bridge app on their phones. At the time of the tablet’s release, AT&T declined to offer its subscribers access to the app through the BlackBerry App World, saying that it “just received the app for testing and before it’s made available to AT&T customers we want to ensure it delivers a quality experience for our customers.” That must have been some quite thorough testing, because only now, over two months later, is AT&T finally granting access to Bridge.
Without AT&T’s blessing, BlackBerry users on the carrier had been thus far forced to do a non-App-World manual install in order to get Bridge on their smartphones. This sort of connection-sharing counts as tethering in AT&T’s book, so for maximum functionality out of Bridge, you’ll need to get signed up for a plan. Without one, you’ll still be able to connect to your smartphone via the app and access some information, but you’ll be missing out on full internet on the PlayBook.
RIM, maybe next time you release hardware that’s so specifically tied to a smartphone app, you get that app out for carrier approval well in advance of the hardware’s release date, OK? AT&T customers should be able to access BlackBerry Bridge as of this afternoon.