Blackberry apps that let you work faster, better … outside the office

With the recent launch of BlackBerry App World, its online store for BlackBerry applications, Research in Motion recognized that for many “crackberry” users, the basic device is only the beginning.

It’s the growing range of third-party apps and add-ons that make the BlackBerry into the business productivity tool they value so much.

The extras available for the BlackBerry are too numerous to list, but here are a handful that may help you be more productive while out of the office.

Viigo

At its core Viigo is an RSS feed reader designed specifically for the BlackBerry, but Mark Ruddock, the company’s president and chief executive, says he wants to “shake off that RSS moniker.”

Think of Viigo, he suggests, as “almost a personal information concierge of sorts.”

Also available for Apple’s iPhone, it displays the information you choose, automatically updated, on your BlackBerry wherever you are.

Viigo has added channels for weather, stock prices and tracking airline flights, and can be used to buy theatre tickets and other items.

A recently announced enterprise offering lets businesses set it up to deliver corporate information to their mobile employees.

Ruddock says some large corporations are planning deployments to 20,000 to 30,000 BlackBerrys.

Viigo also plans to build more intelligence into its servers to anticipate what information its customers will want and deliver it them when they need it, he says.

Vendor: Viigo, Toronto, viigo.com.

Price: Basic package free, charges for some premium content, enterprise offering costs $3 to $6 per user per month.

Momentem

Momentem offers a simple way to tag mobile calls with information for later time or expense billing.

“The people that bill their time – lawyers, consultants, support engineers for example – they use it to keep on top of all those minutes that would otherwise be forgotten about,” says Terry Hughes, president and chief marketing officer of Momentem developer Redwood Technologies.

But Hughes says Momentem can also be useful to anyone who wants to make sense of their mobile phone bills – a tricky task with often-cryptic bills and calls from services like Skype that don’t deliver useful caller ID information.

With Momentem you enter billing information – and follow-up reminders if you like – after a call.

Subsequent calls to or from the same number take two key clicks if the billing information is the same, Hughes says.

The software also lets you defer entering information until later if you’re driving or busy. “It makes my time more productive because I can track what I’m doing,” says Brian Pleet, a Calgary consultant who uses Momentem.

Pleet also values the ability to enter reminders for follow-up activities.

Vendor: Redwood Technologies, Calgary, www.momentem.net.

Price: $10/month through Rogers, limited-function free version also available.

Liberty

The small form factor of a PDA is great when you want to slip it into a pocket, but let’s face it, the tiny keyboard and screen is sometimes a drag.

One way to have the best of both worlds is the Liberty, a USB key device that plugs into a PC and lets you operate your BlackBerry with the computer’s keyboard and screen.

Software on the key adapts the BlackBerry’s user interface to take advantage of the larger screen, says Mark Andress, co-founder and president of Bayalink, which makes the Liberty.

You can take a file from the PC and attach it to an e-mail sent from the BlackBerry, or drag and drop files from the BlackBerry to the PC – Andress notes that upcoming versions of the software will let corporate customers set restrictions on these activities for security purposes.

Andress says the Liberty is popular with financial institutions, real-estate companies, field sales organizations and others.

Vendor: Bayalink Solutions Corp., Waterloo, Ont., www.bayalink.com.

Price: $99.99/year for individual license, enterprise packages also available.

MobiPocket Reader

It’s primarily software for reading electronic books – which is handy for lightening your baggage on long trips, but MobiPocket Reader – also available for Windows Mobile, Symbian and Palm OS mobile devices — can import Microsoft Office and PDF file formats as well, so it can be used to review business documents while on the go.

And it can be used as a mobile RSS feed reader.

Vendor: Mobipocket.com, Paris, www.mobipocket.com. Price: Free download.

Pageonce

Here’s a tool for keeping track of phone calls, text messages, financial accounts and other information while on the go.

Pageonce – also available for Apple’s iPhone and in a PC web browser version – provides password-free access online accounts, such as electronic banking, shopping and travel.

Once you register and provide Pageonce with your e-mail address, it will keep a dashboard updated with upcoming travel itineraries, bank and credit card balances, cell minute usage and other information you choose.

Vendor: Pageonce, Inc., Palo Alto, Calif., Price: US$4.95 per month.

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