Four free and fabulous Blackberry Apps for work and fun

Ever since the release of the iPhone 3G and unveiling of Apple’s App Store, the phone has grabbed all the attention for mobile applications – but that doesn’t mean the Blackberry is falling behind.

Long before the iPhone ever hit the market, developers have been coming up with handy new ways to use your Blackberry. From surfing the Web, to boosting your productivity on the road, or even being entertained.

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Apple’s App Store was a game changer, offering a one-stop-shop for all your application downloading needs.

Research in Motion is following suit, announcing a Blackberry Application Storefront at its developer conference in Santa Clara, Calif. Oct. 21. By next March, Blackberry users will also be able to install applications through a central location and even purchase them with PayPal.

The ease with which one is able to launch an iPhone application is also hard to beat. Just tap and go. But your Blackberry also allows you to set up convenience keys to quickly launch your favourite applications.

Just go to options, then screen/keyboard, and then convenience key – as this video from Google demonstrates:

A Google video demonstrates setting up a convenience key.

And you need not wait for the new storefront in March. There are plenty of free Blackberry applications you can download directly to your device right now. Here are four newer apps that every Blackberry user should have.

Yahoo! oneSearch

Many Blackberry models offer a full QWERTY keyboard and are known for making typing easy. But sometimes it is just easier to tell your device what you want.

Yahoo offers the only Blackberry Web browser that lets you search the Web with voice commands. Just open the application, hold down the phone button and say what you want to search for.

Granted, like most voice-recognition technology, it won’t be 100 per cent accurate. But the program does get smarter each time you use it and offers suggestions for words that sound similar – you select the correct word via a drop-down menu.

Even without the voice command feature, this is a worthy Web application. The search is optimized to deliver results for a mobile device. So if you ask for a stock, you get a little graph. If you want a sports score, that is displayed and you can view the upcoming schedule too.

Or check on the status of that flight you have to catch, and a weather report of your destination city is delivered.

This application also remembers your location and provides a comprehensive local search feature. Get driving directions, business listings with click-to-call phone numbers, and even user reviews of movies that you’re looking up.

Version 2.0 of this application was released April 2.

Download Yahoo! oneSearch:

Google Mobile App

For those who don’t mind typing Web searches, Google offers quick access to its search engine via this new mobile app. It was released on Sept. 10.

The search application is designed to match your desktop experience. It will keep a search history and will suggest queries based on that as you type – protecting you from sore thumbs.

But not only does this application give you a window to search, but to many Google Apps features. Open up Google Maps to get driving directions, or synch your Google Calendar with your Blackberry Calendar. It’s all done with one click.

You can also view your spreadsheets and word documents in your Google Docs account. Just login and you’ll have instant access.

Download Google Mobile App:

Opera Mini

For an improved Web experience beyond the Blackberry Browser, install Opera Mini v4.1. It’s the best browser out there for Blackberrys and easily copes with both mobile Web sites and full-size Web sites.

Opening the application displays an address bar, a search bar that can access several services (Google, eBay, Amazon, Wikipedia), and 10 bookmarks that you can access with quick dial buttons. Just press a number and you’ll be viewing one of your favourite Web sites.

A demonstration of the Opera Mini browser in action.

Browsing is made easy with a mouse cursor you control with your track ball. Opening a full-size Web site displays the full page in a shrink-to-fit format on your screen, and you select an area to zoom in on with your mouse. You can then easily scroll around the page with your mouse and click on links too.

Opera Mini boasts improved Web surfing speeds thanks to its technique of relying on its own servers to pre-process data for popular Web sites. You can also choose to save pages for later offline viewing. To add a little flare, trying customizing your browser with a skin.

If you download Opera for your desktop, you can also synch up your bookmarks.

Download Opera Mini: or for the beta version

Puretracks Mobile

iPhone 3G users enjoy the ability to download music through iTunes with a Wi-Fi connection, but Blackberry users in Canada can also download music to their handheld set, and can even do over a carrier network.

This mobile music store for Blackberry is only available in Canada. You can select and download from more than two million songs from major labels such as Universal, Sony BMG,Warner and EMI. The music files are DRM free, in a 64-bit AAC+ format.

You’ll need a microSD card of at least 128 MB to start using this application. You’ll also need to register with your e-mail and a password. From there, you can buy serial codes that will be used as credit against the music you purchase.

You can browse through the music library that is updated weekly. Or search by artist, track, or genre. Each song costs about $1 and there is no option to download full albums yet.

Download Puretracks Mobile:

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Brian Jackson
Brian Jackson
Editorial director of IT World Canada. Covering technology as it applies to business users. Multiple COPA award winner and now judge. Paddles a canoe as much as possible.

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