BlackBerry All-in-One For Dummies
There's more to your BlackBerry than meets the eye — it's definitely more than just a phone. This cheat sheet covers the various BlackBerry models, the many ways you can use your smartphone, applications that extend the way you use your smartphone, and development tips in case you want to develop your own app.
Selecting a BlackBerry Model
In recent years, Research In Motion has released a number of BlackBerry smartphone models. Behind each model is the same core BlackBerry functionality that you know and love, but each of these models has its unique features and fits different needs and tastes.
|Model Name||Unique Features|
|Bold (9700)||High-end BlackBerry with a full QWERTY keyboard. Small, lightweight design fits well in your hand or your pocket. Great as both a phone and e-mail/Internet device.|
|Curve (8520)||Low-end BlackBerry with a full QWERTY keyboard. Dedicated media keys along the top make it a great music player. Low resolution screen limits video and picture viewing capability.|
|Pearl (9100)||Smallest, lightest BlackBerry model. Has a SureType keyboard (2 letters per key). Ideal if you spend a lot of time on the phone but also want access to all the great features of a BlackBerry.|
|Storm 2 (9550)||High-end touch screen BlackBerry. Large, bright screen that makes it perfect for viewing your pictures and videos, or if you prefers a touch screen to a physical keyboard.|
|Torch (9800)||Touch screen with a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. BlackBerry Browser is fast, powerful, and includes tabs so you can open multiple pages at once. Perfect device if you want a larger screen for pictures and video coupled with the convenience of a physical keyboard.|
You can always research the latest BlackBerry models and their features at the BlackBerry Web site.
Top Uses of a BlackBerry Smartphone
Being a smartphone, your BlackBerry device is capable of providing you with myriad functionalities. With third-party applications, the possibilities are endless. Here are some of the activities you can do with your BlackBerry smartphone:
|Messaging (e-mail, SMS/MMS text, IM, and more)||Collect your RSS feeds|
|Social networking||Enjoy multimedia|
|Get organized||Take photos with the camera|
|Be more productive||Play games|
|Browsing the Web||Get maps and directions|
|Access corporate data|
Five Must-Have BlackBerry Applications
Over the years, the number of BlackBerry applications has grown considerably. Here are five great apps that extend the functionality of your BlackBerry; they're all free, so give them a try!
|Social Networking||With Facebook for BlackBerry, you'll never be out of touch. You can send messages, post comments, update status, add new friends, and more. Uploading pictures and posting as things happen makes it easy and quick for your friends to keep tabs on what you're doing.|
|Google Maps||Maps / Directions||Google does a fantastic job of extending its maps service. Some of the features include: GPS location, satellite views, full turn-by-turn directions, real-time traffic, transit lines, bicycling paths, and a simple search to find anything you need.|
|Poynt||Location-Based||Poynt is the one-stop shop for looking up businesses, people, movies, restaurants, and gas prices.|
|Slacker Radio||Music Streaming||Slacker Radio has a huge selection of different genres, ranging from Alternative, Comedy, Hip Hop/R&B, to International. Slacker's caching feature allows you to store thousands of songs on your BlackBerry smartphone, saving you precious battery life and allowing you to listen without any breaks even if you don't have a wireless signal.|
|Vlingo||Productivity||With Vlingo, you'll rarely have to touch your BlackBerry keyboard ever again. Send text and e-mails, and search the Internet through Vlingo's voice controls. Vlingo also speaks your incoming text and e-mail messages.|
BlackBerry Application Development Tips
Developing apps can be a challenging experience. You not only have to figure out what to build and write the code, you have to deploy and market your BlackBerry app. Here are some helpful tips to get you started in the right direction:
Start with a simple app. Get your feet wet with a simple application that illustrates the capabilities of the BlackBerry platform. You'll gain insights to whether developing BlackBerry apps is the right move for you.
Check RIM's sample applications. RIM's Developer's Web site is a goldmine of resources. Download and try the sample applications. You'll likely find most of the code you need for your app in one of the sample apps.
Browse and search the public forums. There's a vibrant developer's community on the Internet. Many of the questions and issues you'll encounter while developing a BlackBerry app have likely been experienced by others. Here are two communities to try: RIM's Developer's Web site and CrackBerry's forums.
Join a developer community. Aside from a virtual developer's community, local groups regularly meet and share their experiences. Start with the Facebook Developer community page to find a local group near you.
Attend the BlackBerry Developer's Conference. Each year, RIM holds a Developer's Conference in San Francisco, California. Although you'll spend a decent amount of money and time at this conference, you'll learn a lot from experts and veteran developers. Plus, you'll get a better understanding of where the BlackBerry platform is going.
Test your app on multiple devices, multiple OSes, and both CDMA and GSM/GPRS/EDGE/3G networks. The most tedious and expensive part of the process before you deploy a commercial app is testing. Be sure you try all the major combinations of models, OSes, and networks. Finding problems once an app is already released to the public could cost you a lot of support time and aggravations.
Open a beta period. Before you decide to sell your app, make sure you address all the kinks. Most of the problems surface when you have a decent number of users. By giving out your app during a beta period, you'll receive feedback, both good and bad. Your users at this time are more patient with problems than on an app that they paid for.
Leverage the enthusiasts' community. CrackBerry, BlackBerryCool, and BlackBerry Forums are a few BlackBerry enthusiast sites that you can use to market your app. A mention on these sites will bring you many users.