The Top 10 Free BlackBerry Apps 2010
1. AP Mobile News 2.5.6
The Associated Press, bb.apnews.com
Just like its brethren on other mobile platforms, this news program gives you complete, flexible access to local, national, and international news. On top of giving you up-to-the-minute news, the latest version of this app lets you send stories to Facebook or your friends, read stories off-line, or watch news videos. If you’re looking for multiple news sources, try Viigo below, but AP can satisfy any needy news junkie. Download AP Mobile News from the Associated Press site.
2. BOLT 2.1
The top alternative BlackBerry browser just keeps getting better. Until the BlackBerry 6 OS arrives with a new browser, stick with BOLT, a fast, high-quality browser that downloads pages which actually look like desktop Web pages. The new version 2.1 adds tabbed browsing, support for many Flash video Web sites, and Web-based chat apps, such as Facebook and Meebo. If you have a lower-res BlackBerry, like the 8530, try Opera Mini (www.opera.com) instead. Another tabbed browser, it does a great job of reformatting pages so they’re more readable on small, low-res screens. You can download Opera Mini 5 from www.opera.com.
3. FlashLight 1.0.2
App Pro Shop, No Web site
There are many free flashlight apps to pick from, but we choose FlashLight by App Pro Shop. It’s extremely easy to use, and the light is bright. You can adjust both the color and brightness of the light to your taste, too; according to the manufacturer, different colors of light work better in different situations. Green, for instance, won’t spook the fish. FlashLight is available from BlackBerry App World.
4. Google Maps 4.2
Google’s free mobile mapping program just keeps getting better and better. The most recent version adds bicycling and transit directions and the ability to share directions through SMS and Facebook. You can turn live traffic and Google Buzz layers on and off, and the GPS locks in quickly. “Labs” beta options include a terrain layer and scale bar. Unfortunately, the BlackBerry version of this app doesn’t have voice prompts for driving directions the way the Android version does, but it’s still better than BlackBerry Maps. If you ever leave the house, this app is a must-have. Go to Google to get Google Maps.
5. Kindle for BlackBerry Beta
The tiny BlackBerry screen may not seem like the ideal platform for reading long-form books, but stick with us here. Kindle for BlackBerry is part of a multi-platform strategy, where you can read Kindle books on your iPad, on your computer, on your Kindle, and on your BlackBerry. Unfortunately, newspapers and magazines aren’t available on the BlackBerry platform. But we really like the ability to put down the latest best-seller at home, and seamlessly sneak a glimpse at it during a long, boring meeting at work. Kindle for BlackBerry is available at Amazon.
6. Qik LiveStreaming 1.0.15
Qik Inc., www.qik.com
This app turns your BlackBerry into a video broadcast device, which can stream live to the Web or to other mobile phones. It’s easy to set up and user-friendly—as long as you have a good 3G or Wi-Fi connection. All of your videos are also automatically archived and shared for later viewing, and your viewers can respond to you in real time. Qik is available from BlackBerry App World.
7. Slacker Radio for BlackBerry 3.1.76
In the eternal war between Slacker and Pandora—the two leading custom streaming radio apps for the BlackBerry—Slacker recently edged out its rival by offering “station caching,” which lets you listen to music while you’re offline and really saves battery life. Unfortunately, station caching requires a $4-$5/month Slacker Radio Plus subscription. But the 100-percent-free Slacker app is still great for streaming music, with all the professionally-programmed and custom stations you expect from slacker.com. You can create custom stations based on artists or songs right on the device, which is great if you get into a particular mood when you’re on the go. Slacker is available in BlackBerry App World.
8. Twitter for BlackBerry 126.96.36.199
Research in Motion, www.blackberry.net
Now that Facebook comes baked into most BlackBerry smartphones, the folks at RIM are working on an official Twitter client. Its advantage over the competition is its very elegant, well-designed interface. Nothing’s rough here—you can Tweet, search, use lists, follow, or check trends using beautiful fonts and an unobtrusive utility bar. There are several very good Twitter clients for BlackBerry, but this one may be the clearest to use. Twitter for BlackBerry is available in BlackBerry App World.
9. Viigo for BlackBerry 3.1.489
If you only download one app for your BlackBerry, make it Viigo. It’s such a compelling app that RIM went ahead and bought it. Viigo may become part of the BlackBerry OS in the future, but for now, it’s the best single information app for any handheld platform. Under the hood, it’s an RSS reader. But it finds and presents its information brilliantly, whether it’s a slew of news sources and Technorati searches, weather, sports scores, flight information or even Tweets. If you like to know things or read things, Viigo will immediately double the value of your BlackBerry; it’s that good. Viigo is available in BlackBerry App World.
10. WeatherBug 188.8.131.52
AWS Convergence Technologies, www.aws.com
WeatherBug has more features than the competing WeatherEye, which gives it a slight edge in the BlackBerry weather competition. It’s pretty much assumed that you should get live local weather updates, detailed forecast summaries, weather alerts, camera views, and detailed radar maps from a weather app nowadays. WeatherBug goes a bit further by integrating with Bing Maps, letting you tap on a map to find out how the weather is over there. WeatherBug is available in BlackBerry App World.