Blackberry Curve – Freeware Application Review – Blackberry Applications

Blackberry Curve 8330

I just got my blackberry today and it looks like this.
I just got my blackberry today and it looks like this.

Perhaps I can save you some time with this Application Review.

I just recently got a Blackberry Curve 8330 from Verizon Wireless. This is probably the most advanced phone I have ever had. I have to admit that initially I struggled to learn my way around but thought that I’d take a few moments and share some of my experiences with you in this article.

When you pick up a smart phone, it only makes sense that you will want to use it for something more than simply making phone calls and sending and receiving text messages. There are so many more things that phones today can do. I want to share some of the things I have encountered over the past couple of weeks in the hope that it might short cut your search for some valuable tools.

Blackberry App World

 

My phone came preloaded with something called the Blackberry App World.  This is a site which features applications available for your Blackberry phone.  There are a wide variety of application categories for you to select from.  Even if your phone doesn’t come with this application preloaded, you can easily download and install it yourself from the Blackberry website.  If you click on the link here, you’ll be able to get directions about how to perform the download.  I found a wealth of information by bouncing around the application.  The available categories of applications available include all of the following:

 

  • Entertainment
  • Games
  • Maps & Navigation
  • Music and Video
  • News & Weather
  • Personal Finance & Banking
  • Personal Health & Wellness
  • Productivity & Utilities
  • Professional & Business
  • Reference & eBooks
  • Social Networking & Sharing
  • Sports & Recreation
  • Travel

Favorite Free Applications

I wanted to share 7 free applications that I have come across thus far. My review includes 2 with looked very interesting but that wouldn’t unfortunately work for me on my Verizon based phone. My hope is that the reviews below will provide you with a core set of applications to get started enjoying and using your new smart phone.

GPS Tracker

GPS Tracker is an application that provides a free cell phone tracking service. It allows for tracking of individuals or vehicles carrying a supported cell phone. This application enables you to track the location of your phone online in real time. It allows you to also track and export the locations of a phone into a variety of formats. Perhaps one of the coolest features of GPS Tracker from my perspective was the ability which you would have to recover a lost or stolen phone.

HOWEVER,….While the Blackberry 8330 is GPS capable, I have learned that Verizon made what appears to be a marketing decision to disable the GPS capability of the phone for third party applications. It was only after getting excited about the capabilities of this application and installing it that I learned from experience and some additional research that Verizon phones (possible exception the Blackberry Storm) don’t work with this application.

If you have your service through a provider other than Verizon GPS Tracker looks like something worth looking at!

BlackStar

This application is a free GeoCaching and Waypoint Management tool. Using BlackStar would be a pretty cool way to provide GPS related activities for not only GeoCaching, but for hiking, biking, hunting, and even flying.

Unfortunately,… I found the same limitation of my Verizon provider put a quick halt to learning more about BlackStar. I’d love to have had the opportunity to look more into this application. For those of you with a regular GPS unit,… this is probably much less capable,… but one of the things that most caught my attention was the fact that my phone is ALWAYS with me where a GPS unit isn’t so commonly by my side.

If you have service through someone other than Verizon, you might want to explore BlackStar further!

Pandora

Pandora is an internet based music service. There is a free version of the application that can be downloaded to your Blackberry smart phone. When you load Pandora on your phone, you’ll be required to register for the service. They are careful to notify you that using the service will increase your data usage and they recommend that you acquire an unlimited data usage service plan before using the service.

I’m a little less familiar with Pandora than with the other internet based music service that I am using. I had actually loaded an alternative radio staion service initially (see Slacker Radio review below). Looking at the comparison now, here are a couple of observations.

First – Pandora is a much more simple application. No predefined stations are provided. Everything appears to be based upon “creating” a station based upon an initial designation of a favorite artist.

Second – Pandora is almost 1/3 the size of the Slacker Radio service that I had originally loaded. That may make a large difference for you if you’re wanting to conserve space on your phone.

Finally – I've found that the features of Pandora are not very intuitive and/or user friendly. I will note a couple of those that I've run into so far below.

Pandora doesn't clearly communicate the limit on skips on songs while you're listening. You have the ability to “skip” a song while you’re listening. I’ve learned that the application only allows you to skip 6 times during each hour on a single “station”.

There is a feature that allows you to “vote” with your approval or disapproval for a particular song. It appears that selecting your disapproval stops a song from playing and “marks” your disapproval for future playing of that song / artist as well.

Slacker Radio

Slacker Radio is another internet based music service. There is a free version as well as an available upgrade service which costs $3.99/month.

The Free Slacker Radio service (like Pandora) requires that you register to use it. Again there are references to the fact that you should likely have an unlimited data usage plan since the service will result in relatively large data usage (depending upon the frequency and duration of your use).

There are a number of features available on Slacker Radio which push it ahead of the Pandora application from my thus far limited exposure to both.

First – there are a number of predefined stations for you to select from based on general genre of the music. Those predefined stations provide over 120 options. Being new to using this type of application, this came in handy for me and I like having the predefined options available to me.

Second – The selection of Like It or Ban It is much more clearly shown when you are making a determination and providing feedback to the application in Slacker Radio than Pandora.

Third – There are a number of additional features available on Slacker Radio which are not available on Pandora. Sample lyrics, an Artist Bio and an Album Review are a few key things available in the free version.

If space on your phone is a premium, then perhaps Pandora is a viable option for you. If you’re not interested in some of the additional features (predefined stations, lyrics etc.) then load and use Pandora. However,… if any of these additional features are of interest for you (as they are for me) then Slacker Radio seems to be a great option!

QuickPull

QuickPull is an application that may not seem to do a lot at the surface level. What it does however can be VERY helpful. This is another free software tool that simulates a complete soft reset (battery pull) of your blackberry. It is the equivalent of pulling your battery out of the phone and then reinstalling it.

One thing I really like about QuickPull is that it can be run in two separate modes. First and the one that I REALLY like is that you can schedule the application to run. I have mine set to run in the middle of the night. It shuts down the phone and then turns it back on again automatically after the reset. You can also simply click on the installed icon and select to run it then and there if you like.

So why is this important you might ask. Well,… when you use various applications (just like on a PC) sometimes memory doesn’t get released effectively and over time you end up having performance issues. If you’re seeing the spinning hourglass often and things are running more slowly,… this may be the answer to solve what you’re experiencing. I think QuickPull is well worth downloading and running on your Blackberry 8330 smartphone.

Big Tin Can BuzzMe

BuzzMe is a free application that states it will allow your Blackberry smartphone to ring and vibrate at the same time. By default the Blackberry 8330 will only do one and then the other but not both simultaneously. There is a demo that’s available on YouTube to help you

My Weather Lite

One final application to review. My Weather Lite is a free weather application which works within the USA only. It was named in the Top 100 Paid applications on the iPhone App Store in 2008. My Weather Lite is a personalized and interactive weather application that displays information for over 10,000 cities in the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii). They indicate that they will be offering international locations at “some time soon”.

My Weather Lite will allow you to select the list of cities that you want information for. I have selected about 6 – 7 cities where I have family living that I want to keep track of. The application will show you current conditions at that time. Those conditions include current conditions (e.g. Mostly Clear, Partly Cloudy), temperature, wind chill, dew point, humidity, precipitation, wind speed and barometric pressure. You can also select to see a 7 day forecast for a particular city from your list.

Adding and removing cities is pretty straight forward using the full menu feature within My Weather Lite.  Temperatures can be viewed in either Fahrenheit and Celsius. Other measures can be displayed in either standard English or Metric units. You can also reorder (move) cities to display in a different order.

Each time you open the application it takes a moment to go and obtain updated weather information for your listed cities. The time this takes is directly aligned with the total number of cities you have in your list, but it’s pretty quick with my list of 6 – 7.  For quick access to weather information, I have found My Weather Lite to be a great free application.

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