|Rock Up Your Blackberry with Free Apps
||[Oct. 11th, 2008|10:02 pm]
So once I got the Blackberry, I discovered that there were many, many free apps for it that you could get. There's location software (GPS tracking), twitter clients, RSS feeds, and pretty much everything you can think of. |
This review is the apps that I have found that work best. I have no connection with any of these apps other than as a user, and all of them are free. Your Humble Narrator doesn't like to pay for software.
So, in no particular order....
Viigo. An RSS reader, which formats well to the Blackberry. Comes with a lot of channels already pre-subscribed, and you can add your own RSS feeds. I have my wife's blog right next to USA Today. I found the already included newsfeeds to be overkill, but it does work out of the box.
Google Mobile App. Includes Google Maps (which lots of other things use anyway, Google Search, Gmail, and Google Sync to sync your Blackberry calendar to your Google Calendar, if you use it. Google Maps is generally better liked than the Blackberry Maps software, and it does include route-by-route directions, so those whose plan does not include GPS routing will find it does everything but talk to you. The Gmail client is nice and convenient to use, and the dedicated search is easier to use than firing up a browser and going to google because you don't have to fire up a browser.
Twibble. Twitter and Blackberries go together; the better keyboards (full or the SureType keyboard on the Pearl) make Twitter a much better experience than trying to type out a post on a regular phone keypad. Twibble is by far and away the most feature-rich Twitter client out there. Its main features, in addition to the regular Twitter we all know and love, are location awareness (uses the GPS to make it possible to geocode your location) and integration for Twitpic (allowing you to post pictures via Twitter.) Twibble does come with a somewhat higher learning curve than something like Twitterberry, and it seems to take longer to get a GPS lock than other apps, but the end result is worth the effort. Twibble will also run in the background if you want, fetching new tweets automatically, making Twitter into a sort of SMS-like device. It will ask constantly if you want to let it access api.twibble.de, but it's still in development and hopefully the author can address these small annoyances, since he's done a great job of including some really cool features.
Twitterberry. Why am I including a second Twitter client? Because not everyone is going to want all the bells and whistles. If you want a straight Twitter client with nothing else, Twitterberry is your client. Also useful as a baseline to see how your twitters look to the rest of the world.
Auto Lock This is a feature that is sorely necessary for the Blackberry, especially for style-less geeks like myself who carry their BB in a holster or case. Auto Lock will automatically lock your Blackberry when you set it (10 seconds after the backlights go out, upon holstering, whatever). This is something RIM should have built into it at the factory, in my opinion, but Auto Lock is an elegant and problem-free solution. No more getting out of the car to discover your seat belt and blackberry have colluded to call someone they believe to have the phone number *#**12. Thank you geekandproud.net for providing such an elegantly simple solution.
Instamapper. Location-based social networking (i.e, letting your friends know your location and knowing theirs) is apparently the latest and greatest big thing to hit mobile phones. From services like Loopt to the unfortunately named Dimdix, there are different ways to do it. Loopt is good but makes it exceptionally difficult to find friends (but that's understandable); they also had some privacy issues apparently spamming everyone in your address book. If you just want to keep track of yourself or share your location and nothing else, Instamapper is free and has a very small client to install.
Vlingo. Voice command your Blackberry; much better than the voice dialing app it comes with. You can even send text messages via voice. You can open the standard Blackberry apps (but not ones you install yourself, regrettably.) While it gets confused sometimes like all voice apps do, Vlingo is a great app to have if you are in the car a lot or just prefer to voice-command your BB.