BlackBerry apps: Are they worth the download?

There are people who simply don't get the smartphone concept. Some of those people, oddly enough, seem to be smartphone application developers. I am often astounded by the amount of effort obviously put into an app only to have a spit-shined, sparkly GUI which is, sadly, fairly useless. Many of these apps are essentially "mobile" versions of a website, such as Flickr, Facebook, Bank of America and Boston.com. My primary criteria for downloading (and keeping) such apps is if I would use said app rather than use my BlackBerry's browser to go to the actual website.

An example that springs to mind is CNET Mobile. Very simple interface, loads relatively quickly, and gives you complete access to the CNET website's contents. Oh wait. Scratch that last point. You can get a listing of Editor's Choice Reviews for a handful of products and some Tech news listings. Yes, you are offered a search option to get specific content. I don't know. Perhaps if they added a "Today on CNET" section I'd be happier. Check out Boston.com's mobile app for a better idea of what I would like to see from CNET.

[ See also: Top 10 tiny, and awesome Windows utilities; Free BlackBerry Storm Apps: Seven Essential Downloads]

One application that gets it right is the RSS Reader Viigo. Now compatible with my Blackberry Storm, I can navigate very quickly to web content of my choosing. The colorful vertical menu slides horizontally as you navigate, allowing you to pick subjects of interest, whether it be tech news, sports or entertainment. Did I mention the interface is fast? This is rapidly becoming my "standing in line at the grocery store" application of choice.

Bank of America, along with a number of large financial institutions, has started offering their online services to the mobile community. Personally, I'm not exactly sure how secure these applications are, which is a big concern. This isn't viewing your Tweets...this is accessing an account that has your moolah. That being said, the app has an easy to use interface and is useful for your online banking needs. I just can't help but think, "user beware". Maybe I'm needlessly concerned. Anyone care to school me on that?

Then there's Facebook for BlackBerry, which is not only included as a featured app on your BlackBerry, it's also a very popular tool. This application installs a little Facebook icon on your phone's home screen and displays the number of notifications you have on your Facebook account. Nifty. However, the app itself doesn't seem to really be necessary, unless you like the constant push updates to your phone. You'd better have the unlimited data plan. What I discovered was I didn't go to my Facebook nearly enough to warrant the app. I am just as satisfied with the website on the BB browser and receiving my updates via email.

Finally, BlackBerry Twitterheads can smile widely with the release of TwitterBerry 0.9a (still in Beta). The TwitPic feature is nicely improved, and full tweets are displayed on the screen itself. This is handy as you used to have to click to open new tweets...no longer. Yay.

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