I’m sorry, what? BlackBerries can’t do Unicode?????

18Aug09

While trying to re-re-re-reschedule a meet-up, I sent my friend this SMS from my iPhone:

I don’t hate you. But maybe I’ll expect you to pay…

When we finally did meet up, he asked, in extreme bafflement, “Did you really type in all those @’s???” I said “wha … … … ?” He showed me his Crackberry:

@I@ @d@o@n@’@t@ @h@a@t@e@ @y@o@u@.@ @B@u@t@ @m@a@y@b@e@ @I@’@l@l@ @e@x@p@e@c@t@ @y@o@u@ @t@o@ @p@a@@y �

Yikes! Since he’d shown me his, I showed him mine, and then we did some experiments and determined that he wasn’t getting Unicode, or apparently anything beyond US-ASCII. If I message him something Latin-1-able, like “Jürgen”, the accent gets stripped: “Jurgen”. But the real kicker in the original example appears to be the “horizontal ellipsis,” Unicode code point #2026. This apparently got past his de-Unicodifrator and left all those UTF16 nulls-before-ASCII-codepoints as “@”.

“But, I have the new Tour World Phone,” he cried!

“Yes, so long as the ‘world’ will condescend to speak only US American, apparently.”

So I went googling. Actually, we both went googling, but his Crackberry was too slow, too small, and couldn’t display all the pages we found most interesting anyway, so we did it all with my iPhone.

I found ample substantiation of Crackberry Unicode incompetence, in the form of questions in many forums. There are a few responses of the form “choose the right language” (Uhhhh … which language would “…” be? I thought the whole bleedin’ POINT of Unicode was to handle all languages???). But the directions for doing that didn’t work on his Tour (they were evidently for some other model), nor could we find any analogous configuration screen.

C’mon, RIM! Unicode’s hardly “cutting edge.” In two thousand bloody THREE, Joel on Software was chastising web developers for ignoring Unicode.

Can anyone help my friend Unicode-enable his BlackBerry Tour?

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