It’s been about 6 months now since I ended my smart phone boycott and decided that it was time to jump back into a technology that I had found to be so painful a number of years ago. Just had to keep up with the times. My choices were limited by the fact that I live in, for whatever reason, about a one square block of limited cell phone access on all carriers. T-Mobile continues to offer their Hot Spot @ Home service which allows you to make and receive cell calls via the internet and, more importantly, essentially places a cell tower by my desk that is known as my modem. At the time, and maybe even now, the BlackBerry Curve 8900 was the only offering that would meet all of my needs.
The 8900 is a well built phone and I have come to become quite comfortable with it. It is not 3G and. even when hooked to Wi-Fi, web surfing is painfully slow. That being said, my main uses for this phone are email, text, and Twitter. Of course, you can’t have a phone like this without wanting to load some applications on it and, while the number of applications pales compared to the iPhone or Droid, what is available is adequate for my needs. I am not sure what is on your BlackBerry but, here is what is on mine (not including the standard preloaded BlackBerry apps like maps, messenger, etc.) :
SocialScope Lite: I have tried UberTwitter, looked at TwitterBerry, and loaded up Seesmic. Nothing has come close to SocialScope. Two twitter accounts, FaceBook, FourSquare, and Flickr all in one neat little package and with all the bell’s and whistles you could ask for. Go to their site and request a beta invite. I have seen those invitations arrive in a matter of hours but some folks are still waiting for theirs. Don’t ask me why but definitely worth the wait.
Google Sync: I had my 8900 for 5 months before I realized that it could sync with my Gmail contacts and calendar and it does so seamlessly. How could I have been so stupid.
Google Mobile: This is a nice app and it just got better. The voice search works surprisingly well. Now when you conduct a voice search it also checks your contact list and allows you to dial from Google Mobile. Sweet! The one problem that continues is that it does have a tendency after repeated use to freeze my BlackBerry like a solid block of ice. Bummer. See Quick Pull.
Bing Mobile: This app also has voice search that works well but it excels in finding local attractions like restaurants and movie times and locations.
Salesforce: Kind of clunky but it works well particularly for finding contacts. Does interface with your contact book and even SocialScope but you do need to select to send contacts to Salesforce manually. Not “typing them in” manually but rather a menu selection to “send to”.
Pandora: Super sweet internet based radio where you build your own radio stations. Free for up to 40 hours per month and available on the BlackBerry App World Store.
Beweather Lite: A nice little weather report that is available as a free version from the BlackBerry App World Store.
Quick Pull: I paid something like $2.00 for mine at a web site and now they have a free lite version at the BlackBerry App World Store. This does exactly the same thing as a battery pull reboot. My BlackBerry is encased in a bullet proof rubber shell and it takes a chainsaw to get the two sections apart. Before I found Quick Pull … let’s just say that it remains a miracle that I did not throw the 8900 down the insinkerator.
FaceBook: This comes standard with your BlackBerry and works surprisingly well.
Bolt Browser: Some folks swear by Opera Mini but that did not work for me. Bolt can be faster than your 8900′s resident browser, it displays pages nicely, and you can adjust the font size which is an absolute must for me since my reading vision is very poor. The home page is very nice with your history and your favorites clearly displayed. For whatever reason, it does struggle with video. Adjusting to a lower resolution has not solved this problem for me.
Dex: White and yellow pages on your BlackBerry. You just can’t have too many ways to look up somebody’s phone number.
Loopt: Location based Tweeting. Let’s face it, lot’s of tools are doing this now including SocialScope, UberTwitter, and many others. If not mistaken, Loopt is in a death match right now with the likes of Yelp and FourSquare. Not a huge draw for me but might be good if you live in a larger city and want to be able to hook up with others in your immediate area. Note: Any app that uses location based services (GPS) is a monstrous drain on your battery even when it is just running in the background i.e., it is not even open. Be sure to go to your options and either turn that off or have it set to run only when the app is open.
ESPN: Keep up with the latest sports news in a fast load format. A must when you have a browser that moves at the same pace as molasses in January in Siberia.
Engadget: Keep up on the latest gadget news. Available for free at the BlackBerry App World Store.
I am still anxiously awaiting two apps…… LinkedIn is at least a month behind on its introduction of a sweet app for the BlackBerry. Xobni, which is fabulous on Outlook, is also preparing to launch an app. Ultimately, at least for me, not having the choices available with the iPhone or Droid is a blessing rather than a curse. Those of us who have been cursed with the attention span of a three year old know exactly what I mean (smile).
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