Free BlackBerry Apps: Five Can't Miss Software Downloads

These five great free BlackBerry applications can help you stay up to date on news, keep in touch with colleagues and friends, communicate with social networking contacts and instantly diagnose the "health" of your handset.

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Wed, September 24, 2008
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Über Messaging: AIM Instant Messenger for BlackBerry

AOL's AIM instant messaging (IM) service has been around almost as long as the Internet pioneer itself, and it's one of the most popular IM offerings on the Web.

AIM for BlackBerry isn't new, but in the past it was only available to users of specific BlackBerry devices and on certain U.S. wireless carriers. As of early September, AIM is available to all BlackBerry users in United States, and it's expected to hit additional locales in the coming months, according to RIM.

BlackBerry Icon Screen with AIM for BlackBerry
BlackBerry Icon Screen with AIM for BlackBerry

On top of the basic IM functionality, AIM for BlackBerry lets users send images to "buddies," Any new messages they receive appear within their BlackBerry inboxes, alongside e-mail, text and PIN messages. A customized AIM icon also appears on users' home screens whenever a new message is received, and depending on specific BlackBerry profiles, the LED indicator blinks red. The app also integrates with users' BlackBerry address books, so they can place a voice call or send an e-mail message, SMS or MMS from within their IM sessions.

Users can even create custom away messages and manage their online status directly from the BlackBerry home screen without launching the AIM application.

More information on AIM for BlackBerry is available on RIM's website.

myBoxTone Insight for BlackBerry: The Smartphone Doctor

BoxTone, a firm that specializes in mobile user management, has been on our radar since RIM's Wireless Enterprise Symposium (WES) last May. At that event, BoxTone held an amusing contest, called BoxTone Racer, whose winner was named based on the speed of his or her BlackBerry mail delivery.

myBoxTone Insight for BlackBerry
myBoxTone Insight for BlackBerry

However, it wasn't until BoxTone released its myBoxTone Insight app for BlackBerry that we started paying the company the attention it deserves. myBoxTone Insight is a simple but extremely valuable free BlackBerry application that provides users with a variety of performance metrics so they can gauge the relative "health" of their BlackBerry, without a PC or other device. The free app also takes all those metrics and graphs them over different time periods—one hour, twelve hours, one day, etc.—so trends can be spotted.

myBoxTone Insight's key performance metrics include wireless signal strength, remaining battery life, available free memory, the number of calls placed, and how long each call lasted. Users without unlimited data usage plans will also find a friend in myBoxTone Insight, as it offers numbers on the specific amount of data sent and received via BlackBerry during a given time period.

If, after using the app, you find that you're BlackBerry's not as "healthy" as it could be, check out or tips on how to free up BlackBerry memory and extend your smartphones' battery life.

myBoxTone Insight is still in beta testing stages, so it's possible you might come across a minor bug or two while using it—though our experience has been seamless to date.

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