Today I came across a list of what LaptopMag.com is calling the “top ten BlackBerry apps,” and since I’ve been known to offer up my own occasional lists of BlackBerry software downloads—and there are a few on the list I haven’t covered in the past—I decided to bring the post to your attention.
Readers of my weekly BlackBerry tips and tricks stories likely know that I tend to include only free BlackBerry apps in my mobile software download stories. And this is for good reason. I hate paying for software—both mobile and desktop apps—because I can almost always find a comparable program that doesn’t require me to open my wallet. And experience has also taught me that the four-letter F-word—get your mind out of the gutter, I’m talking about “free”—inevitably attracts hordes of readers. (I’m also cheap, but that’s besides the point…)
Though I’ve already reviewed six out of the ten applications on LaptopMag.com’s list, there’s a few I’ve purposely never included. First of all, LaptopMag.com’s list, in alphabetical order:
Google Mobile Updater
Opera Mini 4.1
Quickoffice Office Suite for BlackBerry
ShoZu Beta for BlackBerry
- Yahoo OneSearch with Voice
As mentioned above, I’ve profiled all but four of the applications in my various free BlackBerry software articles: CellFire, EQO, Quickoffice Office Suite and ShoZu.
Because I favor free software over applications you have to pay for, I’ve never included any Quickoffice products in my articles. Quickoffice makes software that lets PDA and smartphone users create and edit Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents, among others, directly on their handsets. BlackBerry users can by default open such documents but the inability to edit or create them has been the focus of complaints for some time.
Until recently, Quickoffice didn’t offer any BlackBerry-specific products either, but its acquisition of DynoPlex reportedly changed that—though I still don’t see any products for BlackBerry on the company’s site. In fact, I don’t see “Quickoffice Office Suite for BlackBerry” listed anywhere on the company’s site…though a press release from last May suggests such a product, listed simply as eOffice for BlackBerry, is available.
Regardless, if the product cost the $70 LaptopMag.com says it does, I simply don’t see myself getting my money’s worth out of it. I used a Palm Treo 750 for a couple of months, and very rarely found myself creating or editing documents. So even if the product does exist—and I’m not 100 percent sure it does—it’s too expensive, especially considering the fact that the upcoming release of BlackBerry OS v4.5 will supposedly include a stripped-down version of DataViz’s Documents to Go to enable some document editing and creation functionality.
Next up: CellFire. This application sends “virtual coupons” to your BlackBerry device whenever you update so you can save money at such well-known establishments as McDonald’s, Domino’s Pizza and Sears, according to LaptopMag.com. So if you’re a frequent patron of these and other chain stores, you may want to check the app out. No paper or printer is needed, as each coupon features a code that can be shown to retailers for confirmation. Unfortunately, you won’t find too many local coupons, as the lineup of companies CellFire’s working with is still relatively small.
I’ve used CellFire before in the past, and unlike the Quickoffice software, it’s free. However, I just don’t find it particularly useful, as I don’t often spend money at any of the big chain restaurants or retailers—and even if I did, I always forget to use whatever coupons I may have. That’s why I’ve never included it in any of my own free BlackBerry software stories. The price is right, though…
EQO is worth checking out if you communicate with friends or coworkers on a variety of different instant messaging (IM) platforms. It too is free, though you can opt to pay to use the service for placing VoIP phone calls—for cheaper than using Skype, in some cases. EQO integrates with such popular IM platforms as AIM, Google Talk, ICQ, Jabber, MSN, QQ and Yahoo!, according to LaptopMag.com, but you need to use separate contact lists for each, which is enough to deter me from taking up precious BlackBerry memory by keeping it on my device. The app also doesn’t integrate with BlackBerry address books or message inboxes, LaptopMag.com says, so using the VoIP features can be tedious.
I tend to stick with BlackBerry Messenger and AIM for BlackBerry for all my IM needs, as the vast majority of folks I converse with through IM are on one of these platforms or use a compatible service. However, you may want to give EQO a test drive if your IM contacts are scattered across various messaging platforms or services.
Finally, the free ShoZu for BlackBerry app lets you use one single program to upload digital media to the various social networking sites or services you frequent, as well as update your status and converse with contacts. It’s only available to Pearl and Curve users, though, so owners of other BlackBerry devices are out currently out of luck.
We’re very much into Twitter and Facebook at the moment, though our tastes for social networks change faster than the seasons in New England, and we certainly see the value in using one application to access and maintain both accounts. However, ShoZu’s strength is also its weakness: Because the application is meant to work with a wide variety of social networking and Web 2.0 sites, like YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Blogger and others, it’s interface is basic and isn’t as functional as applications with interfaces designed specifically for use with each service.
For example, TwitterBerry, our mobile Twitter client of choice, offers a “cleaner” interface with nearly all the same functionality as the full, Web-based version. We’re never actively employing more than a couple social networks simultaneously—there’s simply not enough time in the day—so we don’t need ShoZu’s ability to integrate with a wide variety of social networking services. But uber-social-networkers could find a friend in the application.
LaptopMag.com also experienced some issues with ShoZu on BlackBerry—the geotagging function didn’t work and comments on photos were unreadable, for instance—but the software was in beta stages at the time the article was posted, so those issues may have been resolved.
Well, that’s my explanation why some of the “best apps” from LaptopMag.com’s list never made it into any of my free BlackBerry apps stories. I pride myself on covering all the best free software from RIM devices, and I’m always looking for more, so if you’ve got any suggestions that weren’t mention in this piece, or any of my additional BlackBerry software posts, drop me a comment below.
And thanks to Adam Zeis for bringing the LaptopMag.com story to my attention.