MyBoxTone Expert for BlackBerry

Ask a handful of seasoned BlackBerry administrators about the most common smartphone-related help desk requests, and you'll likely get very similar answers: device provisioning issues, e-mail latency, wireless coverage issues, and the like. In other words, problems that are relatively simple to fix with the right know how, but that can put novice or beginner users out of commission quicker than you can say "downtime."

Many BlackBerry administrators currently spend much of their days addressing these routine smartphone issues. But in November, administrators may have a whole lot more free time when BoxTone Software releases its myBoxTone Expert for BlackBerry application.

myBoxTone Expert runs in the background of BlackBerry devices, unbeknownst to users until problems arise. When trouble rears its head, the app provides users with a toolkit to address the issues on their own, before contacting the support desk. Those tools come in the form of proactive home screen warning and alerts; "smart" diagnostic information to help identify and fix more than 20 common service issues; step-by-step problem resolution instructions pulled from a number of sources, including both BoxTone's own and Research In Motion's (RIM) knowledge bases; built-in features for remote troubleshooting that allow users to snap screen shots at any time and then send them directly to the help desk; as well as metrics and performance trends for a variety of device indicators like battery life, phone usage, data traffic patterns and wireless coverage.

The version of myBoxTone Expert that I used was still in beta and there were a few noticeable bugs, but overall I was very impressed with the application and the breadth of features designed to reduce the time it takes to fix BlackBerry-related issues and therein increase user productivity while cutting IT support costs.

myBoxTone Expert in Action

Using myBoxTone Expert is easy. An application icon sits on users' home screens, colored green if there are no current problems; yellow if issues are detected, but not critical; or red if a potentially serious problem is identified.

Users can launch myBoxTone Expert application at any time by clicking on its icon. If a user launches the app while the icon is green (signifying that no issues have been found) he's brought directly to the app's home or status screen. The home screen offers metrics on the mobile network, battery life and available memory--both on-device flash and external media card memory--so users can monitor the everyday "health" of their devices. (The myBoxTone Expert home screen is very similar to the company's myBoxTone Insight application, which I recently reviewed.)

If the home screen icon turns yellow or red, users can launch the application and warnings and alerts are then displayed, in order of severity, and users can click on each individual item for instructions on how to fix or address the problems.

For example, if a user's on-device flash memory comes close to running out due to an excess of photos or documents, myBoxTone will send a warning that flash is dangerously low and that any additional images saved to the device could result in a purge of messages or call logs. Users would also be instructed to delete images or other files to free up space.

If the myBoxTone Expert icon turns red, the application has identified an issue or group of issues that could significantly degrade device performance and even cut off core functionality, like the ability to send/receive messages, sync personal data or access the Internet.

If more than one issue is detected, myBoxTone Expert lists them all on the opening screen with either a red or yellow dot to represent severity; the most threatening issues at the top of the list. This helps users--and eventually IT support representatives, if necessary--prioritize problems.

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