After two weeks of intensive tinkering with my new BlackBerry Curve, I have identified a list of my favorite free software for the Smartphone. As with my earlier "Best of Pocket PC" guide, I hope this would be of help to you.
I'm glad to report that my favorite e-book reader software on the Pocket PC also happens to be available for the BlackBerry.
Better yet, version 6.0 of the eBook reader for the BlackBerry comes with features that are currently not found on the other platforms. Namely, it comes with integrated access to the on-line MobiPocket bookstore to browse and buy new books. Using it, you can also access your purchased books wirelessly.
That means if you lose your BlackBerry device, all you need to do is to delete your old device profile from MobiPocket's Web site. Once this is done, you will be able to log in from a new BlackBerry and download previously purchased books OTA (Over The Air).
If there is a common lament that BlackBerry users have, then it would be about the built-in BlackBerry browser. Unfortunately, other options aren't exactly aplenty, though I hear that a version of Firefox for the BlackBerry is in closed development.
In the meantime, if you want to have an alternative browser installed — always a wise choice — you will need to look at Opera Mini. Now, Opera Mini actually uses a remote server to transparently pre-process Web pages before sending them to your BlackBerry, so this might be totally out for some of you with strict corporate policies against it.
Personally, I've installed it as an alternative when the BlackBerry browser is unable to render certain pages.
In order to stay competitive RIM offers free clients for the main instant messaging (IM) networks - MSN Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Google Talk, and AOL Instant Messenger — that are available for free download from its Web site.
However, if you're looking for a single application that supports the various IM networks, then you will need to check out some of the commercial applications out there.
At least, that was the state until last month. On February 11, WebMessenger Inc. announced that its multiplatform WebMessenger IM would now be free.
Note that WebMessenger is a "hosted IM" service, meaning it relies on backend servers owned and operated by WebMessenger Ltd to actually connect to the various IM networks on your behalf. Needless to say, the usual disclaimer applies here.
Those on limited plans will want to know the amount of data that they are using. If that's the case, then mini monitor is the software for you.
Not only does this utility count the IP traffic, it visualizes it in real-time as an aesthetically pleasing graph. Records can be saved into a media card and traffic cost computed. Users who found it useful are urged to donate to the author.
According to its site, BeFTP for BlackBerry was developed by software company BEIKS in response to customers' need to download large files to and from their BlackBerry and its media card.
Strictly speaking, BeFTP is not freeware, but allows for free usage in the case of non-commercial and '"infrequent" use. The limiting factor is that you will not be able to save your FTP configurations, which is not something you will mind if you are an "infrequent" user anyway. Make sense?
Anyway, you can also use BeFTP to browse both your BlackBerry's internal file system as well as the media card's content and perform simple create and delete functions.
- AutoLock — As its name suggests, this application adds what the folks at RIM forgot to put in. This handy utility will automatically key lock your BlackBerry after a pre-determined amount of time. After installing, you can configure the time-out period via "Options."
- Soft Reset — Unlike the Windows Mobile Smartphones that I have used in the past, I have yet to reset my BlackBerry to resolve applications or operating system issues. Still, if you ever want to do a reset without taking out the battery, Soft Reset is the perfect tool for you.
- iPhone theme — How will your BlackBerry look with funky iPhone icons? Try this theme, you're going to love it!
Paul Mah is a writer and blogger who lives in Singapore, where he has worked for a number of years in various capacities within the IT industry. Paul enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets, smartphones, and networking devices.