10 Must-Have Apps for Your BlackBerry

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Liane Cassavoy, PC World
PC World
Sunday, February 22, 2009; 12:19 AM

Not long ago, the words "BlackBerry" and "software" didn't belong in the same sentence. Sure, your BlackBerry smart phone was capable of running software; it even came with a few applications installed. But if you were looking for a wide selection of third-party productivity apps, you were out of luck.

Fortunately, things have changed. Today, people want more out of their smart phones, and phone manufacturers--and third-party software developers--are meeting those needs. Most new BlackBerry phones include more software than past versions have--you'll even find the Documents To Go office suite installed on most new models. And thousands of applications are available for download and purchase. BlackBerry maker Research In Motion is finally getting in on the act, too, as the company prepares to launch the BlackBerry Application Storefront, its answer to the iPhone's App Store, next month.

But you don't have to wait for the Storefront if you're looking for BlackBerry software. Plenty of great apps are around now--you just have to know where to find them. We've rounded up ten tools that can make your BlackBerry even better. This list is by no means comprehensive; the hardest part was whittling it down to only ten titles. So if your favorite BlackBerry app isn't on here, let us know in the comments section below.

I know, I just said that most new BlackBerry phones come with a version of Documents To Go already installed. And they do--but it's the Standard Edition. That app will let you view and edit existing Microsoft Office files, but it won't let you create new ones; for those capabilities, you need the Premium Edition. Both versions let you open existing Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents and Adobe PDF files natively, so you don't need to convert them to view them properly. They even let you view tracked changes and allow you to insert comments in spreadsheets.

It may not sound like a terrible hassle to open your BlackBerry's e-mail client every time you get a message. But why not make things easy on yourself? PeeKaWho pops up an alert when you have an incoming e-mail message, showing you who sent it, the subject, and a snippet of the text. That way you'll know whether the message is important enough to read right away, or whether it can wait until you've finished your current task. The alerts are especially handy if you're composing another e-mail--they allow you to see new messages without losing the one you're working on. You can also create blacklists or whitelists to control how many pop-ups you get.

Leave your laptop at home--or, at least, that's what this CRM (contact relationship management) application promises to help you do. Maximizer CRM for the BlackBerry offers many of the features of the company's popular desktop CRM app in a version that takes advantage of your smart phone's features; for example, you can initiate a call or begin drafting an e-mail to one of your contacts from within the Freedom app. New in this version is support for the recently released Bold and Storm smart phones, as well as wireless deployment capabilities that will make life easier for your IT folks. It can work as a stand-alone CRM program, or in tandem with the company's desktop- and browser-based products.

Some people may think that Macs and BlackBerrys don't mix, but that's not the case. PocketMac is a free utility that will let you sync your BlackBerry phone with your Mac computer, just as RIM's BlackBerry Desktop app does for PCs. Once your phone is connected to your Mac via a USB cable, PocketMac will sync your information, including calendars, contacts, tasks, e-mail, and notes, from a variety of applications such as iCal, Entourage, Mail.app, and Daylite. You can even sync music from iTunes.


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