10 must-have free BlackBerry apps
Do more with your BlackBerry -- without spending a dime.
Computerworld - Your BlackBerry might be plenty powerful out of the box, but there are hundreds of third-party applications out there that can make the device even more useful.
Adding the apps to your BlackBerry is a breeze, because they can all be installed "over the air," either by visiting the app's site with your BlackBerry's built-in browser and downloading the file directly, or by having an e-mail sent to your BlackBerry with a direct download link.
Even better, some of the best of these apps are totally free. Here are 10 of the best free apps available for your BlackBerry.
Viigo is a full-featured RSS feed reader that lets you read your favorite feeds and keep up with important news wherever your day takes you.
You can add your own feeds (Viigo's auto-detect function can discover the feed address for most Web sites), but Viigo also comes well equipped with a variety of tech, politics, sports, weather and other feeds.
Preconfigured feeds also allow you to easily set up traffic alerts, stay up to date with flight information, and track packages from UPS, the U.S. Postal Service, FedEx and DHL. The new version, now in beta testing, adds support for custom search alerts and even podcasts.
Although recent BlackBerries support voice dialing, the speech-recognition app Vlingo goes far beyond dialing numbers from your address book.
Using only your voice, you can run Web searches ("Find post offices in Punxsutawney"), launch built-in BlackBerry applications ("Open Calendar"), compose e-mails and send text messages.
The transcriptions tend to be very good, so you don't have to worry about double-checking before sending. Vlingo takes over the application key on the side of your BlackBerry, making it easy to access even while driving.
Access the entire suite of Google's mobile-friendly services in one place with Google Mobile. A single interface gives you one-stop access to Google's Gmail and Maps applications (the latter of which can integrate with your built-in GPS tool, if your BlackBerry has one).
It also includes links to Web services including search, Google News, Google Reader, Google Docs (which is read-only on mobile devices), Picasa photos, and your Google Notebook, all of which open in your BlackBerry's built-in Web browser. Google Mobile also includes the Google Sync service, which allows two-way synchronization between your BlackBerry's built-in calendar and the Web-based Google Calendar.
Packing a little more oomph than your BlackBerry's built-in MemoPad, BBNotePad is a plain text editor that allows you to write full-length documents or even code wherever you might be.
BBNotePad sports three text sizes for tired eyes, and it saves files as .txt files that can be opened directly on any computer, saving to either your BlackBerry's internal memory or on your removable flash card. It's very useful for sending notes and memos over Bluetooth to other handheld devices.
Whether you need to run complex calculations or simply need to organize some information into a table, GridMagic Community Edition from the Simprit Free Software Community lets you create spreadsheets on the move.
GridMagic supports a wide range of mathematical functions, and lets you add formatting to keep everything clear and readable. Typical spreadsheet functions like freeze panes, select by row or column, and copy-and-paste are also available. Spreadsheets can be e-mailed as Excel .xls attachments via a new menu item in the BlackBerry's built-in e-mail composition screen.
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