Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What are the best Blackberry apps?

There are plenty of berry apps out there, some good some bad. After installing a pile on a brand new 8900 curve (and bricking the handset in the process - App Error 200 - there was no O2 validated OS available at the time for a complete wipe and reload). I thought I would share what I have learned in the process.

So far on my new device, I am mainly sticking to free RIM published apps, the app that causes the big error was a Skype program either IM+ or iSkoot dont know which but I was in the process of installing and removing those when it happened.

Currently Installed and working well
  • Google Apps a really nice package of all the google apps for blackberry use this link on your phone m.google.com or visit www.google.com/mobile/blackberry/.
    • Google Search sure you can search google from the browser; but this tiny app provides a nice formatted search list, has 'google suggest' enabled and also shows links to the other google apps at the top of the page.
    • Google Sync this is what its really all about, this simple app syncs all your contacts and calendar information between the device and google, its completely seamless and automatically updates the data as and when required.
    • Google Maps amazing, works with the phones built in GPS, works much better than blackberry maps, loads pages quicker, search is great, even has access to street view.
    • Google Reader access to all your RSS feeds on google reader. Interface could do with some work, the first view you get is your reading list.
    • Google News as you would expect, whats quite nice is that you can customize the page view to show what categories you want to see.
    • Gmail this I dont use very often, my gmail gets pushed to my device via my BIS so not point in using this an getting double the notifications for new mails. However if i ever need to search by gmail archive its very handy indeed.
    • Google Calendar again not much point using this as all my calendar data is updated to the blackberry's own calendar with google sync. This is also just a link to the google mobile calendar page which is pretty naf. No function to 'go-to date' or 'erase' an event. Shows the agenda view.
    • Google Docs pretty horrible, links to the mobile site, shows the most recent files to be edited. Spreadsheets; you can view as HTML (horrible) or click to view as XLS [Keyboard shortcuts; w: column width; t: goto top left; b: goto bottom right]. Dont bother downloading the XLS as 'Docs to Go' wont open it. Word; nice view of the text, but no possibility to edit it or download it.
    • Picasa Web Albums/Google Photos links to mobile site, shows all your own albums. My favorites links to other users you share your photos with and recently viewed albums of other users.
    • Google Notebook links to mobile site, easy to view all the notes, add new notes, but whats quite annoying is you cannot edit or erase notes! [Update: Looks like google is going to can notebook soon anyway, read this post on Lifehacker]
  • Facebook nice app from RIM, full integration for notification of events, that can be customized in profile setup. www.blackberry.com/facebook_download
  • Google Talk not part of Google Apps, from RIM, as would be expetced full intergration for notifications, chats show up on the messages page, very clean little chat interface www.blackberry.com/GoogleTalk.
  • Windows Live Messenger from RIM, much the same as google talk; clean & simple usability with full blackberry integration www.blackberry.com/livemessenger/.
  • Flickr Upload tool for your Flickr account from RIM, also featuring message list integration for your Flickr messages www.blackberry.com/flickrdownload.
  • MySpace Not not a huge user of MySpace but the app looks nice, and probably being from RIM will work great and have full integration as would be expected www.blackberry.com/myspace.
Update 06 Jan 2009. Also now added Twitterberry its pretty nice, partial integration, will allow a flashing LED notification when you have a new tweet to view, but not notification icon on the home screen or alternative 'checkme' app icon orangatame.com/ota/twitterberry.

I'm would love to get a RIM Skype app, I'm not interested in calling with Skype, just the chat would be very handy. Looking at the Skype website there is a mobile app available for some other phones, I have seen the Sony Ericsson version in action, but no support for blackberry at the moment..

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