User heaven on a Blackberry Thursday, April 24, 2008
I confess to being a blackberry fan and have used one for about 5 years, finding it indispensable. For the last few years, I've also been free of the shackles of a large corporate IT department and hence able to determine what gets installed on my device .
However, I've found relatively few applications worthy of installing other than
- the superb Google maps for mobile, which integrates well with the device's GPS capability, notwithstanding Google maps inherent capability to provide approximate location data via mobile phone cell information
- Gmail for blackberry which offers me a backup in case problems arise with the T-mobile blackberry email as well as to access old emails
Whilst I added Opera mini browser, I almost never have cause to use it, finding the native browser being adequate in most cases. This allows me access to all of my internet services when I'm on the move.
As for the Facebook blackberry application, it was installed and quickly uninstalled, matching my waning interest in that social network.
Lately, it has been great to see an increasing number of applications being developed for data synchronisation with the blackberry to the "cloud". The consequences of losing the device and related data has always been a concern to me.
For instance, Google recently released a free blackberry calendar synch application, allowing your device calendar to be directly synchronised with Google calendar. I'm not using it because I'm happy with my alternate configuration that I described here. Obviously, many corporate users will have real-time synch of their calendar over the air with their Exchange server, but very handy for SMEs.
Yesterday, I read about a blackberry synchronisation application for Remember the Milk, which is a task manager that also integrates with Gmail via a Firefox extension. Sadly this is a paid for application.
I was also excited to come across TellMe's offering. A Microsoft subsidiary, and only operating in the USA at present, its' blackberry application provides a voice interface to a location based search service e.g. find local services. My interest related to a start-up I dealt with a few years ago who were focussed on exactly this space but whose ambitions were inhibited by the widespread absence of GPS enabled devices and cell data. Right idea, but ahead of its time in infrastructure terms.
The sad thing, as ever, is that many corporate blackberry users are denied access to many of these superb offerings because of IT department inertia or paranoia. If you don't have google maps as a minimum on your blackberry you should definitely complain.