Although I’m a big BlackBerry fan, I found the BlackBerry App World to be just horrible on many fronts. Accessing it through an icon on my handheld, I’m taken into a rich and attractive graphical experience. Unfortunately, RIM seems to have spent all their time on making it look pretty. The site is clunky and slow to the point of frustration.
On the top level are 10 featured apps, categories such as productivity and games, top downloads, a search feature, and a list of your downloaded apps. The featured apps are useful and are probably your best hope of finding useful apps, because scrolling through a list of 437 games at a glacial pace will drive you batty, and the search feature borders on the useless. Even apps I’d read reviewed on the Web regularly wouldn’t show-up in the app world search.
When you do get to an app you like, you’re given the price, a synopsis, screenshot, and a star rating and reviews from fellow users. The user feedback is useful, and I like the screenshots.
Apps range from free to more than $40. There’s no way to sort by price, and the only way to pay is by PayPal.
Call Time Tracker by Momentem
For consultants or those who do work on their BlackBerries that has to be billed to client accounts, this handy app lets you keep track of your time spent on e-mail and phone calls, and assign the time to specific clients. After each call or e-mail (sent or received) you’re given the option to tag it to a specific contract, and can make notes on the event. The time you spent on the call or reading or composing the e-mail is recorded, and you can even set your billing rate for each contract or client. You can generate activity reports on your BlackBerry or be e-mailed a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet report. You can generate the spreadsheet monthly with the free version, or on demand with the more feature-rich pay edition.
Developer: Steelthorn Software
This one sounds simple, but it’s quite convenient and can save you a lot of aggravation. Basically, it allows you to set a time to do a soft re-boot of your handheld, or do it yourself on demand. Why do this? Well, if you’re like me, the only time you turn-off or reboot your handheld is if it crashes. Eventually, performance starts to suffer. A reboot can make a major performance difference, but it’s a pain and, with the BlackBerry, quite slow. With this app, I set the reboot to happen while I’m sleeping, and I wake up in the morning to a speedier device.
This is a handy app for keeping an eye on the markets and your stock portfolio, as well as the latest business news. You can personalize your news preferences and your stocks to watch, and have updates pushed automatically to your handheld. You also get notification of analyst upgrades and downgrades, columns from commentators such as Jim “Mad Money” Cramer, and your home screen icon will light-up to inform you of new content.
Par 72 Golf Lite
Developer: Reset Game
Golf games have been a computer game standby for years, and I passed many a long subway ride playing this one, trying to master the different holes. In the free version you only get three, the first hole of three different courses, but the pay version offers all three courses in full. The graphics are basic but decent, and so is the gameplay. You can choose from a range of irons and woods, and the game will recommend the best one for your distance from the hole. Sand traps don’t seem to have much impact, nor does the wind, although it is indicated. Aim is simple, and the power meter is fairly basic: press to start, the graph rises, press to stop. Wait too long and your swing goes wild. Very simple, but it’s free and distracting.
Waste of Time
Developer: Evernote Corp.
This app is paired with a browser-based desktop and is designed to let you share text and audio notes as well as Web page snapshots and other files between platforms and with friends. The app lets me create text notes and audio recordings that I can name, tag and upload and then access online, or, in theory, pull down onto the handheld with a less-than-useful search engine, which just takes me to the Web interface in my handheld browser. And on my computer, while I can access the notes, I can’t download them, which leaves me unclear on exactly what the point is, and why I don’t just e-mail myself and save the hassle.