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Planet of the Apps: Introductory tools from BlackBerry App World

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3rd Apr 2009
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BlackBerry Bold
Technology correspondent Jon Wilcox looks at the newly launched BlackBerry App World, and recommends some of its highlights.

 

Research in Motion (RIM) has launched the Blackberry App World, its answer to Apple’s iPhone Apps Store. A unified store front, the App World features free and paid-for downloads for several models of BlackBerry. The online service is only available in the UK, the US, and Canada. RIM said it continue to roll the product out to additional territories throughout 2009.

As well as unifying the process of downloading BlackBerry apps, users have access to reviews, and key apps under a Featured option. Veterans of the smartphone will already be familiar with many of the utilities and games currently listed, but RIM aims to have 1,000 applications available for download by the first week of launch.

Commenting on the launch, RIM President and Co-CEO Mike Lazaridis said: “BlackBerry App World aggregates a wide variety of personal and business apps in a way that makes it very easy for consumers to discover and download the apps that suit them while preserving the appropriate IT architecture and controls required by our enterprise customers.”

AccountingWEB will be keeping a close eye on BlackBerry App World over the coming months, in a regular “Planet of the Apps” round-up. But for now, here are a few free apps that caught the eye of the IT Zone team.

WorldMate Live
A virtual itinerary, WorldMate Live is perhaps one of the handiest apps available to businesspeople on the move. Co-ordinated with a full website, WorldMate Live allows users to enter confirmation data for travel arrangements, and even book a hotel from their BlackBerry thanks to a collaborative effort with Hotels.com. Extraneous details, including the type of plane and the terminal number for arrivals, are also listed. For BlackBerry users with a PayPal account, a premium version of WorldMate Live is available, providing added functionality such as checking flight schedules and a travel directory.

Viigo
The Viigo app may provide a handy aggregator that features customisable content from news, weather, social networking, traffic information, and RSS feeds, but there are additional applications beyond that. Viigo can be utilised by enterprise, enabling the secure flow of company information and data to be broadcast to employees.

Salesforce Mobile
The cloud CRM provider’s presence on BlackBerry is already highly rated by users, with additional functionality added in the latest version of the app. Featuring a range of options, including the ability to view and edit your Salesforce.com records, access account activity, and view real-time graphs and charts. A free download for Salesforce.com’s Unlimited Edition customers, the app is also available as part of a 30-day trial of the company’s cloud services.

Bloomberg
As the global stock markets continue their volatility, Bloomberg’s app may prove useful for users looking to track share data, market data, and their own portfolio. Links to the most read news stories of the day, together with the ability to graphically view share prices and stock markets, makes this a comprehensive app for business users. The white and orange text on a black background makes for a more pleasant reading experience too.

Others to consider
BlackBerry App World will populate further with apps in the coming weeks, but at launch, not everyone is on the store front. Two apps that should be on the radar for Blackberry users are the Google Mobile Apps suite, and Opera Mini.

Featuring a number of the search engine giant’s key apps, including Google Maps, Gmail, a read-only edition of Google Docs, and voice-based search, the Google Mobile Apps suite for BlackBerry is a solid app for regular Google users. However, the voice-based search is a little clunky at times - during a brief road test, the search developed an issue with identifying the town of Stroud (Australia and Strauss were looked up instead).

Opera Software’s Opera Mini browser is a strong alternative for BlackBerry users that don’t get along with the device’s default web browser. The key strength of the app is its ability to render full web pages, allowing users to avoid the stripped down mobile web. In addition to zoom functionality, Opera has implemented quick scroll keys to the BlackBerry’s numeric keypad, enabling faster navigation around the page.

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John Stokdyk, AccountingWEB head of insight
By John Stokdyk
03rd Apr 2009 15:55

Never lose a pub quiz again - they've got Shazam!
This is one I cannot resist - you can play a tune you like to your BlackBerry and the Shazam database will tell you in a few seconds who it's by and offer the track for download and links to the artist's MySpace page etc etc.

I've already downloaded TwitterBerry direct from the developer and use it update the IT Zone home page from our SiftMediaTech account on Twitter.

NB Great as these apps might be, look before you leap and read the small print. For ordinary mortals, Shazam usually costs 50p per use, but it appears to be free for the moment to iPhone and BlackBerry app users. But be careful around your data costs - if your contract doesn't come with "all you can eat" unlimited data access, you could find yourself being stung for the amount of info shovelled through to your smartphone. A colleague who shall remain nameless one ran up a £150 monthly bill because he thought it would be a good idea to get news alerts from Orange via SMS.

Ever since that episode, I've always been suspicious of mobile goodies - but in the case of Shazam, I may have to make an exception...

John Stokdyk
Technology editor
AccountingWEB.co.uk

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