One thing I’ve realized, after having spent so much time writing for MakeUseOf, is that you can really follow along with the major events in a writer’s life based on the articles that they’ve written. In my particular case, you can see how I got my brand new Android a couple of Christmases ago, and played around with things like converting it into a Star Trek Tricorder. Then, one day after getting a speeding ticket, I started using my Android to report police speed traps. Then most recently, I quit my job and burned my bridges.
One surprise I had when I started the new job is that I would be receiving a brand new Blackberry phone. Now, this presents a dilemma – do I drop my beloved Android phone and become a Crackberry addict? I decided to explore this new world of Blackberry Smartphone apps to see if it could do at least the most important things that I use my Android for. In the process, I wanted to introduce you to some of those fundamental free blackberry apps that every Blackberry user should install the first day they activate the device.
Ten Best Must-Have Free Blackberry Apps
There are really three things that I use my Android phone for about 80 percent of the time – Facebook, Twitter and email. Thankfully, there is a Facebook for Blackberry app that comes default with your Blackberry. It’s actually just as good, if not better, than most of the Facebook apps that I’ve used on Android.
One thing I noticed about the Blackberry (Bold) was the very sweet rollover button – sort of like a touch mouse – that you can use to quickly scroll down pages and menus. This will make scrolling through Facebook updates a breeze!
Of course you’ve got to have Twitter for Blackberry as well. This is also a great app that’s laid out well and easy to navigate and use.
The last critical app that I had to have was the ability to access multiple Gmail accounts. Thankfully, there is also a Gmail app available for the Blackberry. Not only that, you can download a bunch of Google client apps for the Blackberry just by visiting Google’s mobile page in your smartphone browser.
I like the client, however I also like the look and feel of the browser-based Gmail access from the Blackberry as well. So try both and just choose the one you like best.
Another must-have app that you can also download from Google’s mobile page is Google Maps. If your Blackberry has GPS built-in, then this also becomes one of the coolest free GPS navigational tools you’ll ever use.
Accessing & Publishing Information With Free Blackberry Apps
If you regularly read RSS feed updates every day with your morning coffee or during the train ride into work, then you’ll love XPRSS, the best free RSS feed reader available for the Blackberry. This app comes preloaded with a list of the most popular news feeds, and of course you can add as many of your own as you want.
Aside from reading articles that other people write, you may produce your own. If you do have your own WordPress blog, then you’ll want to install the WordPress client. This client lets you do almost everything from managing comments to reviewing and writing posts.
If you regularly find yourself on the road and you do have a GPS-enabled phone, then the LifeInPocket GPS app is an all-in-one app that you’ll never be able to live without once you start using it. Based on your location, it’ll show you navigation routes, your nearby friends, nearby businesses including cheap gas or towing services, current traffic levels, current news for your area and much more.
Just having this one app on your phone would let you uninstall dozens of other apps.
Another obscure little app that will quickly become a critical, necessary part of your smartphone experience is BeamExplorer. Aside from the fact that it is one of the easiest file explorers to use, and integrates very nicely with the Bold’s rollover pad, BeamExplorer also lets you create MS Office files on-the-fly. That’s a very rare feature to find for free in a Blackberry app.
One of my absolute favorite apps that I could never really find in the Android Market, is Vlingo. This is one of those rare apps that seems ahead of the curve technologically. It is perfect for in the car, because you can launch applications, update your Facebook or Twitter accounts.
Best of all, when you enable it, Vlingo will read all incoming text messages and emails (up to 50 words) to you so that you don’t have to fumble with your phone while you’re driving.
The last app that I wanted to share is one called Vectir. It is a remote control app that is available as either a Bluetooth or Wi-Fi install. It’s ideal for those of you that run servers or monitor-less desktops at home and you want to remote-control the PC.
Blackberry doesn’t offer any free VNC-type apps, but if you install the Vectir server on the PC, you can control the Desktop with your Blackberry just like you would with a VNC connection.
As you can see, even the Blackberry offers a decent collection of free apps to get you started with enjoying your new Blackberry experience. I know I was a little nervous to change over from the Android – but the monthly savings alone made it worth my while. Now that I’ve seen that I can do everything I need to with the Blackberry that I did with my Android, the switchover really won’t be all that painful.
Do you use a Blackberry? Are there any free Blackberry apps that you love? Share them in the comments section below.
Image Credit: Igor Karon
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