BlackBerry software must-haves

Just retired the BlackBerry 8100 (Pearl) for an 8310, and while I was in the process of loading up all the software again, I figured I would make a list here of all the cool junk you need to have installed on your wireless handheld.

THE TOP FIVE

  • Gmail Mobile (Free). Sure, you can set up BIS at home and have it push your Gmail to your BlackBerry—as long as your desktop is running and can connect to your mail account.  But why bother when Google has made it easy for you?  Just download the Gmail mobile client to your handheld device.  It will pre-load messages and check mail in the background.  Any Gmail
    messages you read, delete, or mark for follow-up on your handheld will be similarly handled in your web-based account, automatically.  Can use it to search your Gmail account for words/phrases too, just like the web version.  I prefer to use Gmail Mobile rather than BIS, so that my personal email doesn’t show up in the standard BB Messages view (which is always clogged with business email).  As the Offspring would say, ya gotta keep ’em separated.
  • Virtual Reach Viigo Personal (Free).  An indispensable RSS reader for your handheld device.  Set the update interval to something as short as every 30 minutes, or as lengthy as once a day.  Manage feeds via the device or by logging in to Virtual Reach’s website.  Now you’ve got the latest news and blog updates to read on your morning commute.
  • SplashID ($).
    ID and password manager for mobile devices.  password- and encryption-protected to guard your data.  Syncs with a desktop component too, so you can enter the stuff via your desktop keyboard and, after syncing, have the data readily available on your mobile device.  Not just for computer IDs and passwords, but can accommodate insurance account numbers, frequent flier IDs, clothing sizes, web logins, et cetera.  Super-handy if you have a million infrequently-used IDs and/or passwords, but may need any one of them at the drop of a hat.
  • Globis Data DRIVES (Free).  Not an application, but a website that can be accessed via your mobile (or desktop) browser.  WAP-based traffic information services for Toronto and Montreal, with Calgary coming soon.  Uses mobile phone signals to determine the speed of cars along certain streets and highways, then displays average traffic speed on the map.  Frackin’ cool use of everyday technology.  Bookmark this one, it’ll come in handy.
  • Pretty much any Magmic game ($).  A boatload of addictive games for your mobile device.  Old board games like Monopoly and Stratego.  Sports games like Curling, or my current addiction, Golden Tee Golf.  Yes, it’s just like the full-sized Golden Tee where you compete against drunken people in bars across the continent.  There’s also card games like Blackjack, Cribbage, Euchre and Texas Hold’em Poker.  A veritable warehouse of time-wasting mobile goodness.

FOR THE I.T. CROWD

  • Rove Mobile Admin ($$).  Permits management of your IT infrastructure from a wireless handheld (BlackBerry, Treo, specific models of Sony, Nokia & Motorola phones).  The list of supported servers and devices is considerable.  Free 30-day demo, otherwise licensing cost is calculated on a per-server basis.  Well worth the investment—say goodbye to hauling your laptop everywhere during on-call duty.

FOR THE MOBILE EXECUTIVE

  • WorldMate Live ($$ ).  Create and manage travel itineraries, check flight schedules and status, look up numbers of airlines, hotel chains, and car rental places.  Plus a currency converter, local weather forecasts, and world clocks.  Nine bucks a month for the fully-featured jet-setter Gold Edition, or a slightly crippled version for free.

RUNNERS-UP

  • Google Maps Mobile (Free).  Get directions to unfamiliar places.  Find the closest gas station, restaurant or hospital.  Figure out where the hell you are.  Works with GPS-equipped BlackBerries, showing your position on a moving map.  For handhelds without GPS, it won’t tell you where you are, but it’s still more convenient than carrying a wad of paper maps around.
  • Facebook for BlackBerry (Free).  Just what you needed.  The universal productivity-destroyer, now with added wireless data charges!  Note that the Facebook app uses the BlackBerry Browser to communicate.  The BB Browser uses your company BES (BlackBerry Enterprise Server) to surf, and then packages and sents the requested data to your wireless handheld.  Most companies don’t permit their BESes to communicate with the Facebook.com domain, so if you’re on a corporate BES, forget about it.

As with all mobile phone software, the application may be free, but the air/data time is not.  Be aware of the wireless data charges you will be incurring through use.

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