In Pictures: The Best BlackBerry 10 Apps
Looking for the best BlackBerry 10 apps that will be available on launch day in the United States? Look no further. CIO.com's Al Sacco spotlights 20 of the best early BlackBerry 10 apps, including apps for social networking, image and video editing, cloud storage, audio, sports and more.
The Best BlackBerry 10 Apps at U.S. Launch
The first BlackBerry 10 smartphone, the Z10, is expected to be released in March in the United States, and a number of quality mobile apps will be available immediately. BlackBerry promises many more notable BlackBerry 10 apps in the days and weeks after the official U.S. launch, but the following slides spotlight the best BlackBerry 10 apps that will be available on the American launch day. (Note: The majority of the BlackBerry 10 apps featured here are native BlackBerry apps, but a few are Android ports, and they are noted as such. All applications are official BlackBerry apps and can be downloaded via the BlackBerry World store.)
I've been using BeWeather on BlackBerry smartphones for years, so as soon as it was released for BlackBerry 10 I downloaded it post haste. This native BlackBerry app shows current weather conditions and detailed daily and weekly forecasts. Weather data comes from Weather Underground, and it's accurate in my experience. BeWeather uses GPS to quickly find your location, and you can also plug in additional locales. Weather advisories are pushed to your device as they arrive. The app comes with more than 150 icon sets that let you customize its look. And a BeWeather active frame displays rotating conditions for all of your saved locations.
BlackBerry 10 packs some quality camera and image-editing features, but Paper Camera, an already popular app on iOS and Android, brings additional filters and effects to your images and video. Make your photos look like comic book illustrations or dot-matrix prints and adjust image contrast, brightness and lines to create unique, custom pictures. I had issues with the app crashing when capturing video, but it works well with images, and future updates will hopefully resolve the video problem. Paper Camera is a fun and valuable utility to add to your smartphone-camera toolbox.
Slacker Radio and Songza
A number of Internet radio apps are available for BlackBerry 10, but my two favorites are Slacker Radio and Songza. I use them both when I want to listen to a variety of artists without constantly skipping through my on-device music library. Both apps are available for free, and each one offers a different way of navigating music. Slacker lets you search for specific artists and then listen to "stations" made of similar music. And Songza offers up stations based on your moods. Both radio apps are worth some space on your BlackBerry. (Songza is a ported Android app, but it runs well.)
Gadget Box is a digital Swiss Army knife for your BlackBerry 10 smartphone. The native app packs tools for hanging level pictures and leveling tables; a compass that lets you place GPS markers at specific locations; an adjustable flashlight with strobe controls that uses your camera's flash; a height/distance estimator that uses your camera to judge height and/or distance of target objects; a speedometer; a protractor: a unit-conversion tool; and more. Some of the utilities are bit rough, such as the distance estimator, but overall the app works well.
Splashtop HD Remote Desktop HD
I've been using Splashtop remote desktop tools to access my various PCs and Macs via Android for a long time, so I was very pleased to see a native BlackBerry 10 app become available. My experience with the BlackBerry app was a bit bumpy, especially when I tried to access my Mac using my Z10. But the PC experience was better, and it let me stream audio and video stored on my computer to my smartphone, among other things. The controls are a bit awkward, and the app is buggy, but I'm hopeful that the developers fix it soon so it is on par with the Android version.
Connect to Dropbox
Dropbox hasn't released an official app for BlackBerry 10, but the free, native Connect to Dropbox app, from BlackBerry, is the next best thing. The software brings all the basic cloud-storage functionality to BlackBerry 10. Access all your Dropbox files; view, edit, and add files to Dropbox; browse files in the cloud using the BlackBerry 10 File Manager; export files to other apps; and save new and updated files to Dropbox. I'm anxiously awaiting an official Dropbox app that doesn't need to use the BlackBerry File Manager, but until then, I'm calling Connect to Dropbox a friend.
Your favorite business-oriented social network offers a native BlackBerry 10 app. The LinkedIn software has most of the basic Web features, including a home-page stream with updates from connections; your profile page; inbox; groups; and connection recommendations. You can also quickly post updates to your feed and search for people. The LinkedIn BlackBerry 10 app is a bit barebones at this point, but the UI is fluid and looks good.
Flixster for BlackBerry 10 is a must-have app for film buffs. The software provides information on popular films in theatres and lets you quickly stream trailers; check new DVD releases by week and browse information on more than 50,000 films on DVD; read reviews from Rotten Tomatoes and Flixster users; find theatre information and show times; and buy tickets for select theatres using MovieTickets.com. The native app is a bit slow and performance is somewhat lacking overall, but it gets the job done and future updates will hopefully fix the problems.
The best general sports app available today for BlackBerry 10 is theScore. It currently offers live coverage of sports including football (NFL), basketball (NBA, NCAA), hockey (NHL) and soccer (EPL / Premier League, UEFA Champions League), and the developer says more sports will be supported soon. theScore also provides, box scores, player stats, league leaders, betting odds, game previews, recaps, top stories, schedules and league standings. The app's UI leaves something to be desired, and some major sports leagues are currently missing, including Major League Baseball, but theScore is still a worthy app for BlackBerry-toting sports fans.
Foursquare, everyone's favorite location-based social network, offers a native BlackBerry 10 app. Check in to your favorite locations; view all of your friends' check ins; find nearby restaurants, shops and retail locations using the Explore feature; and view your profile page, with a list of your history and links to stats and badges. Foursquare for BlackBerry is buggy at times and it often takes a while to load locations. But the app is still a must for Foursquare junkies with BlackBerry 10 handsets.
Neatly for Twitter
The official native Twitter app for BlackBerry leaves a lot to be desired. It is slow, lacks important features and does not support multiple accounts—that last one's a deal breaker for me. That's why I quickly downloaded Neatly for Twitter. Neatly isn't perfect either; it's also buggy and doesn't have an effective notification system. But it does support multiple accounts, and it also has unique and valuable features, including the ability to create custom Twitter timelines of your favorite users and helpful information on bio pages, such as common interests and other social stats.
I was disappointed to learn that BlackBerry 10 does not offer a native audio-recorder app. As a reporter, I frequently use my smartphone to record interviews and conversations. The simple, ported-Android Recorder app for BlackBerry 10 fills that gap nicely. It's very basic and doesn't offer many settings or audio controls, but it's free and it works well for simple recordings. Recorder lets you capture audio, rename the files and then share them via email and a few other ported Android apps.
WordPress bloggers need access to their publishing platform wherever they are, and the free, Android-ported WordPress BlackBerry 10 app gives you all the basic blogging features you need on the go. Post new entries and pages; edit existing ones; upload images and video; check traffic and visitor statistics; moderate and edit comments; and more with WordPress for BlackBerry 10.
Box for BlackBerry 10, like the previously mentioned Connect to Dropbox app, gives you access to your cloud-storage locker via BlackBerry 10 devices. And it's a native app made by BlackBerry. The interface is easy to use, and it's very similar to Connect for Dropbox—it also uses the BlackBerry 10 File Manager to access files in your Box. The app lets you quickly and easily access and edit your files; share content; save new files to your Box; and automatically upload pictures and videos taken on your BlackBerry 10 device.
Craft beer is the new wine, beer nerds are the new wine snobs, and no beer nerd should go without the Untappd mobile app. I've been using Untappd for years, and the native BlackBerry app helps me get the most out of the service. Untappd helps refine my knowledge of great beer; meet new beer lovers; keep track of brews I've had and beers I want to try in the future; and rate beers so I remember my thoughts on them. Untappd also uses a badge-based system to mark notable craft-beer-related achievements. And you can upload images and comment on other people's checkins.
Nobex is an Internet-radio streaming app that lets you listen to your favorite radio station wherever you are. It's particularly valuable to travelers who want to listen to hometown radio when traveling; thanks to Nobex I never miss my Boston sports radio shows when I'm away from home. The free version of Nobex lets you listen to countless radio stations from your own country. (The premium app also streams stations in over 100 different countries and removes ads, but it costs $3.99 a month.) You can also listen to a large collection of popular podcasts and share whatever you're listening to with your contacts.
StubHub, the world's largest fan-to-fan ticket marketplace, according to the company, is available in a native BlackBerry 10 app. The software makes it simple to find events, search for tickets in your price range and then find detailed information on the seats before buying them. And you can search for events by city or location and tag your favorite artists or sports team to easily find their latest performances. Unfortunately, StubHub currently only lists events in the United States and Canada.
FancyTran -- Translator Built for BlackBerry
If it is language-translation software you seek for BlackBerry 10, look no further than FancyTran, a high-quality, native mobile translator app that supports voice input. FancyTran uses Google and Bing translation engines, and it works with more than 60 languages for translation and more than 50 for pronunciation. The app automatically checks spelling. The $1.99 premium version supports voice, and it works with 14 different languages. It works quite well, though I did have to repeat myself in a few instances before it accurately captured my words for translation.
If you're a BlackBerry user who doesn't read CrackBerry.com, you're doing yourself an injustice. No other site on the Web covers BlackBerry news, reviews, apps, advice and everything else BlackBerry with the passion you'll find on CrackBerry. The site's native CB 10 BlackBerry app not only delivers that content in an easy-to-navigate and visually-appealing package, it's also a great example of how developers can take advantage of the BlackBerry 10 UI to improve their software experiences. CB 10 is a must for all BlackBerry...err, CrackBerry addicts.