Essential Blackberry Applications: Part 1

I just purchased my first Blackberry, the Bold. As a techie I have scoured the Internet looking for custom apps, tweaks and just about everything I can do to tinker with my new pda/phone. I have gone through a dozen IM programs and a dozen others looking for high quality and useful apps for my new Blackberry. Here is my list of essential apps.

  • TwitterBerry (Twitter) (Free) – Great minimalist Twitter client. UI is the best of the alternatives (TinyTwitter, BlackBird) and the most responsive. Now that Twitter no longer is offering SMS service to the UK or in my case Canada, Twitter on the BlackBerry is essential. TwitPic support is built in (although I was having some issues with it) and I cant figure out how to add new people to follow but overall it works great.Update: I have found a new Twitter / Facebook status application that has replace TwitterBerry for me. It is called SocialScope and it is in an opt-in beta program right now. You can sign up at their site here.
  • KeePassBB (Free & Opensource) – I am a die hard user of KeePass which is a program which manages all your passwords. I use a different password that is randomly generated for every account that I use. My Keepass database has over 300 entries in it. Up until this weekend, I did not even have my Gmail account password memorized because with Keepass it can automatically enter it into websites for you or you just copy and paste the password.If I wasn’t able to get the passwords from my Keepass database the Blackberry would have almost been worthless to me. Luckily there is an open source project that brings Keepass to the Blackberry. It is functional, the UI needs some work but the author said he accepts patches and I looked at the code and it appears to be easy to follow. Maybe soon I will jump on into mobile development?Anyways, I synchronize my Keepass db from my Pc using a program called Syncback SE. This I use almost daily to synchronize data between my PC and USB key or my PC and Laptop, now between my Blackberry and desktop. I also use a Free Syncplicity account to store online copies but unfortunately they do not have software for the mobile. They DO however have a mobile website so you can access your files from your Blackberry web browser if you forgot to Sync a file.
  • Google Mobile Apps (Free) – Google provides a suite of Blackberry software for many of its products including Gmail, Calendar, Reader, Maps, Notes, News, Photos and Synchronization.
    • Gmail – Great interface for email, better than Blackberry’s email program but it doesn’t download emails nearly as quickly. For this reason I have both Gmail and Blackberry BIS hooked up to my Gmail account. This Gmail program allows me to use Gmail drafts, sent messages, contacts, etc
    • Reader – It sucks really which is disappointing considering how much I use Google Reader. I cant mark uninteresting posts without actually going into them and read items don’t seem to synchronize properly with regular Google Reader. Sharing and Starring seems to work fine though.
    • Calendar – Very basic but functional. Kind of sucks actually. See next entry.
    • Maps – This is where the Google Mobile Suite shines. Works just like the regular online version but makes use of your GPS as your current location. I have Mountain Equipment Coop in my Blackberry contact list with the full address. I go into Blackberry contacts, click menu –> Show on Google Maps and it shows me a map of the address. I can get the exact same directions as the full web version offers by entering the address of start and destination or by making bookmarks. Very handy.
    • Docs – A slim/read only version of Google Docs. Decent enough to view them.
    • Photos – View Picasa pictures from mobile account
    • Notebook – A nice way to quickly take notes and store them online if you need a reminder to check such a link on your desktop pc. Or to transfer a long url to Blackberry/PC.
    • Sync for Mobile – This synchronizes your calendar and contacts with the Google version. This is great for when you make changes on Google Calendar and want those changes to be on your handheld.*Note* Must visit with default Blackberry Browser to install.
  • SyncMyCal ($30 USD) – This is actually a desktop app but a requirement for me. As you can tell by the Keepass entry, I like to have things Synced which means the freshest and latest copies of my files on all my devices. This includes my contact list, my calendar and my task list. The Blackberry software synchronizes with my Outlook 2007 very well.I use SyncMyCal to Synchronize my Outlook 2007 with my Google Calendar and Contacts. This allows me to edit calendar entries and contacts on my Outlook which is must faster than using the Google equivalent. I also prefer to view my calendar in Outlook when I am on my home PC. Google versions are for when I am on my laptop or a public machine. SyncMyCal allows me to do this 3 way syncronization Outlook <—> Google <—> Blackberry which is so far working extraordinarily well. Hopefully no problems.*Note* A word of warning for those who decide to go with it. Make sure you set your options to Google precedence or be prepared to lose your Google contact list and calendar.
  • JiveTalk (aka BeeJive) ($30 USD) – This isnt cheap for IM but so far appears to be worth it. No longer do I need to be checking Google Talk or Microsoft Live Messenger for contacts, this program integrates them into one nice concise list with user avatars and chat protocol icons on the right. You can add custom alerts and change the colour of the Blackberry top right LED so you know that you have received a instant message instead of a email.*Note* As of December 2008 a beta version is available which integrates JiveTalk into the BlackBerry Messages Application. Essential. Obtain the beta at JiveTalk Blog. To be continued (I’m not even half done yet) ….

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